Monday, January 14, 2008

Absence

It's been a little over a week since I last posted anything. I suppose it's largely because I don't feel like I have anything to say. I could go on about various topics, but I don't really care to. It's not like anything I write here will matter. I suppose there could be something cathartic about writing down your thoughts and feelings, but it seems juvenile to me. The idea of writing down my feelings - my problems - in a location where people can read about them feels like I'm asking people to give me pity or sympathy, like I'm saying, "look at my trials and tribulations! Pity me!" In all truthfulness I think that very line of thought is what caused blogs to become so popular. It gives us a way to tell our friends our problems without actually having to tell them, thus making it feel less like we want sympathy and simply that perhaps they're reading our journals. Our very public journals. And not just public journals in that anyone might stumble across them, but rather journals that we have told our friends and acquaintances the exact location of, going so far as to provide them with the link itself, removing all work on their part so that they may read and understand our hardships and our lives.

It all seems like just a way to pass on responsibility. If my friends and family read about me being turned down for a date or not getting a job interview, then the next time I see them I can expect some sort of sympathy or understanding for my melancholy demeanor. If they didn't read about those events, then they might simply wonder exactly why I seem less than excited to be alive and that would then put the burden on me to explain why. It makes sense in a cynical, minimalistic way.

The reality of the matter is that I shouldn't write anything personal here at all. Instead of using this as an aid - a crutch, if you will - to gain support and understanding, I should bear the burden myself. By doing so, I don't grow to rely on others always understanding a foul mood, and as such removing any potential justification for it. Without justification - without purpose or meaning - the foul mood I may be experiencing would no longer be something others would understand and sympathize with, but rather would be something I could deal with individually, and thus not burdening others with my rather meager problems.

This is contrary to what therapists have said, however. I once read an article that blogging is considered very healthy in that it has replaced journals and has once again given people an outlet for their feelings and thoughts. The downside is, as I addressed above, the public nature of weblogs. With them being public, our thoughts are no longer private or personal, being able to be read by friends or family we may have shared the address with or even anyone who happens to google certain key words. Our once sacred bastion of personal feelings is now available for all to read. This is not inherently a bad thing, as it can, in theory, help people learn if their loved ones are depressed or suicidal, or simply update people on the status of ones life. This was once done through Christmas cards or regular correspondent letters; now it's done by a web address.

The downside of this public nature lies in the very idea of what a journal once was - a personal, private place to write down and acknowledge your thoughts and concerns. By writing down our thoughts, we force ourselves to understand them because we cannot write what we cannot put into words, and we cannot put into words what we do not understand. Weblogs have kept the personal aspect of a journal while stripping away the privacy of a journal. It was once the ultimate taboo to read someone's journal - particularly a girl's - and now our journals are available for the world to read. If we didn't know that these journals were so easily accessible I feel their purpose would be more well served. I would write in it as I would a journal: candidly, openly, honestly, privately. It would be simply an electronic journal.

As it stands, I know that people read this and, whether purposefully or subconsciously, I tailor it to them. I don't write simply what I'm feeling, but I write what I think you need to hear from me. I may write that I am in a good mood and that things are going well when in reality I may be on the verge of tears, yet I don't want you to know that because I have a confident, male image to uphold. I may write about something I experienced that focuses on the negative events so that I may evoke sympathy from you. I may tell a story yet leave out certain events I don't want you to know. It is no longer my private thoughts and feelings you are reading but simply another facet of me hidden under a very deliberate facade; a facade that many people may believe is more accurate than who I am in person. The cathartic quality of a journal is not continued in a weblog because we know that people will read it, and I - and most likely we, speaking for most who read this - are not comfortable with anyone knowing our personal thoughts and feelings. We feel vulnerable and weak; we're afraid of anyone knowing who we really are.

Blogs that are truly personal are almost always anonymous. It is only in anonymity that we can be completely honest with one another. While anonymous, we do not fear repercussions for our actions; we do not fear judgment; we do not fear society frowning upon our thoughts or actions; we do not fear disgust or hate; we do not fear others thinking less of us for who we really are because they do not know who we really are. It is perhaps comical that only when someone does not know who we are that we can actually be who we are. Once someone knows us, we become the person we think we need to be around them. We begin censoring ourselves; we begin catering to their thoughts of how we should act; we begin to care about their opinions of us and as such grow to fear the idea that they may feel negatively about us.

I suppose I could say that we lose who we truly are when we are around those whom we care about most. If we care about someone, we tailor who we are to them and betray who we are to ourselves. The goal of all this is, of course, to become a person who does not feel the need or have the need to change who they are around people. Someone who can truly and openly write what they feel without fear of what others may think. Someone who can be who they are around anyone - who acts the same whether anonymous or under spotlight. Someone who doesn't fear disapproval from society because they know that it is their opinion that matters most; and they approve of themselves.

Maybe someday I'll be that person. Until then, I guess I'll continue to tailor this to those whom I know read it.

1 comment:

Fede said...

Or you could always set the blog to private in your blog settings.