Admit it. Don’t you think diaries are, if not a little creepy, often a little too revealing, too much like watching daytime television? Don’t we all sound a bit deranged and in need of treatment when we go back and read about our emotional excesses and maybe even actual excesses?
I like the idea of diaries, journals (and personal blogs) and I’ve kept them at various times in my life. I like being able to put down what happened today, my thoughts, feelings and reactions to those things, or just random thoughts. For the most part, I enjoy looking back and reading about what happened when and how I felt about it. But I’m ambivalent about diaries, journals and very personal blogs, too.
I think it’s great to have a place to emote, to get things off your chest. However, if you write down lots of private things about people in your family, or even about friends, what if they someday read these things (or not someday, but today, when you post them??) My experience is that words can still hurt and divide many, many years later. So what if you’re dead? Why hurt the other person? Maybe diaries should be buried unread with the author or burned. But then what about all the wonderful stories we’d miss? Should you or could you change names “to protect the innocent” or the not-so-innocent? And with a blog, it’s even worse because the damage, if there is damage, isn’t confined to a single person who might read the diary, but all subscribers as well as anyone who happens to come across your blog, including the person or persons about whom you’re writing! I really believe there’s a limit to honesty, even one to one, but especially with that width of audience. It’s like the situation where one person in a marriage has an affair or a dalliance, then feels bad and want to confess. I’m not at all sure that’s a good idea, unless the other person already knows about it. Seems to me it’s a desire to unburden the self of the person who erred, at the expense of terribly hurting not only the unsuspecting partner but the relationship itself. And as far as the internet goes, once it’s out there, it’s out there and like a malevolent genie popping from the bottle, you are NOT getting it back in.
Another thing about diaries is this: have you ever re-read things you felt twenty, thirty, forty years ago? It can be excruciatingly embarrassing even just to you! Interesting, yes, but eye-rollingly mortifying as well. Not bad, I hasten to add but re-reading some of mine has made me wish I could just edit out a few things. However, in the age of written journals, it’s not as simple as highlighting and deleting. What’s there in ink is staying there unless I rip the page out. So much youthful angst! You may have things that you don’t want your spouse or your children to read, even when you’re dead (although I realize it won’t matter to you then.)
I loved reading the Little House books by Laura Ingalls, which are diaries of a sort and I also loved the TV show. Even though they added things, I always felt that what was added was in the spirit of the books, so I didn’t mind. But although I knew better, I started to feel that Pa and Ma (and the rest of the family) looked in real life as they did in the TV show and of course, they didn’t. Pa looked absolutely nothing like Michael Landon; a shock, even though as I said, I knew better. That’s one reason there are very few movies or TV shows that I like watching if I’ve read the book or books. The people so often aren’t as I imagine them and once seen, tend to dominate my imagination, pushing my creations aside. I do love David Suchet as Hercule Poirot! He’s just as I imagine HP to be, down to the mincing steps. But even though one of my sisters-in-law has recommended a channel that shows movies of European mysteries that come from books, I don’t think I want to watch. Let Commissario Guido Brunetti and others remain as seen in my mind, not the mind of the producer. And sometimes the changes in story lines are so blatant I find myself talking (growling?) at the television. Nope, I’ll stick to the written work most of the time.
But back to diaries, journals and blogs. Since one of the positives about writing down everything is that it’s fun for you or helpful, you do want to be able to put down absolutely everything. Keeping things private is another matter and maybe you don’t want to keep them private. Just remember, that’s a choice that isn’t easy or might even be impossible to change. So you may want to write the old-fashioned way and hide your journal somewhere so you can pull it out when you like, read through it, groan over the old you and feel chuffed about how far you’ve come (hopefully!)
If you keep a diary or journal or write a diary-like blog, what are your thoughts? I’m just tossing around some ideas and would love to hear other ideas. Do you have written journals lurking around somewhere? Do you go over them sometimes? Have you ever had a negative experience with something like this that you wrote or blogged (other than just not having many people read or “like” it?)