When I started blogging, I did so on LiveJournal. It was a large community of people, most posts were public, and only a few posts were “friends only.” The friends in my friend list were actually my friends: people I knew in real life or people who had also shared their blog lives with me long enough that they felt like friends. There was an intimacy in that. I even met a couple of my online friends in real life, and we got along famously. Maggie moved away years ago, and I still miss her.
In the 12 years since, things on the internet have changed. People you’ve met 1 time can find you on Facebook. People you’ve never met at all can go through years of your blog posts. Your Twitter. Your YouTube. Your Flickr. People you have never met can know everything you’ve chosen to show them. It’s usually just oddly amusing (there’s a guy on Flickr who apparently REALLY likes my hands), but you see the potential for horror.
In response to this 21st century weirdness, a lot of people have made a lot of things private or “friends only,” but I have never been a huge fan of that. Instead, I came out on the other side of the fence, saying “this is me and I am not ashamed of it. Google all you like.” Who cares about what I say? Basically nobody…but you have to remember that if your stuff is public, it’s OUT THERE. Anyone can see it, and it never goes away. Any potential employer, any new guy you meet at a party, your Sculpt instructor at the Y, the girlfriend of the guy you dated 10 years ago…everyone. On the off chance that someone might be gunning for you, you should cover your ass. If you say that someone is evil incarnate, someone you know is going to copy and paste what you said and email it to that person. If you care if that happens, you probably shouldn’t write those things.
The system worked well. It forced me to be thoughtful about what I said. To always be conscious that the walls have ears. (The walls even have ears you haven’t MET yet. The walls have ears that you will meet at the gym 6 months from now.) In 12 years of blogging, I haven’t regretted a single post. I haven’t had someone email to ask why I’m talking behind their back. I haven’t had someone call me out for anything I’ve written, photographed or video taped. I’ve been ever-conscious that everything I say is public. Very public. GOOGLE public.
But it has also tied my hands.
In my efforts to think things out, be diplomatic, be clear and be unimpeachable, I lost some honesty. I lost the ability to talk about anything. I lost the day-to-day, “here’s my life, here’s my worry, here’s my joy.” For example, you can’t blog about talking a friend through a breakup and how you feel about the possible repercussions of that when that friend’s girlfriend is your Facebook friend. It will hurt her feelings and make the friend angry with you because you have told secrets that are not your own. So you table that blog. And another blog. And another, until you wonder what the hell the point of your blog even IS, since you’re basically just writing articles for the masses. Oh, yes, please. Write a blog about that MOVIE. That’s thrilling. Why don’t you just start a tumblr and post screenshots of text messages and pictures of your food?
I understand that a certain level of privacy can be achieved through Facebook custom publish filters and the like. I also understand that everybody in Nashville knows everybody else and that people talk. I understand even further that not everyone on the average “friend” list is actually your trusted confidante. Sometimes it’s a friend of a friend, or a coworker or any other of a host of people who would love to copy and paste your words and send them to someone who hates you for reasons you don’t know about that may or may not be true.
So, I’m returning to where I started.
I have changed the name and format of my LiveJournal. It is now known as Ritual Shower (what I jokingly call my nightly “de-stress and process” shower) and it is where I sit down each night and process what happened that day. A sort of “think about what you’ve done” that will hopefully lead to more mindful living. A way to take the mass of confusion and emails that is daily life and sit and process it, wrapping each day up in a little bow and putting it to bed.
Ritual Shower posts are friends-only. If you’re on LJ, email me (evilamymauk at gmail) and I’ll add you. If you think we’re good enough friends, we probably are. I’m just filtering out the coworkers, family members and strangers from goth night. The regular blog posts will still be available here, and they will still keep coming. My inner writer still has plenty to say to the faceless mass, and probably always will.
This is my voice and I like it here. I just need to add another dynamic level. A quieter one.