Monday, January 28, 2013

Thoughts on Journaling

I've tried to keep a journal numerous times; They've all failed.

I've tried paper journaling, journaling using applications, and even journaling with a cloud service that syncs your journals to all your devices (it's a very beautiful application for Mac and iOS devices called Day One). And a question popped into my head today: Why do a lot of journaling attempts fail? Especially, it seems, in today's generation.

Nowadays, copious amounts of people in the world have some sort of an account on a social networking site whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. What do all of these have in common? They're archives. For example, although I don't use Facebook anymore, I can still log into my account and look at my posts from years back, detailing how I was on a specific day or showing how I saw the world that day via a picture I posted at a specific time.

We don't need journals today because we journal without even recognizing we're doing it. We post things we like, things we're thinking, relationship problems, thoughts about our life, school, work, etc; basically, most of us post a lot of information about our personality and lives. And as long as these websites are functional (or there will be someway to access or download an archive of our data), we'll be able to log onto Instagram in 30 years and show our kids what the sunset looked on a specific date.

Isn't that awesome?!

But there are of course problems with this. The first is the information you would put online versus in a private journal (whether via paper or an application). Sure, we post a lot of information about ourselves online, but there are still some things that we wouldn't want people to know about. Maybe an embarrassing health issue or a certain grade we got on a test. The majority of us probably filter mostly the good or the interesting of our lives to display online.

And really, that could be related to a lack of seriousness in (mostly) youth today. My English teacher showed us this really interesting article that left an impression on me called "How to Live Without Irony" and I highly suggest you read it. If you find you are too lazy to read it, it basically describes some of the movements of today, such as the hipster movement, as trying to not being true to yourself and liking things that are "cool" instead of liking things that you actually think our cool... I hope that made sense.

The point is, although people shouldn't post every gory detail about your life online, it shouldn't be normal or considered okay to make an online persona totally different to your own. I'm not talking about posing as your mom on Facebook or something, I'm talking about revealing only your good side or, even worse, making things up to make yourself seem really "cool" and "awesome". Be who you are. Tell people of your accomplishments, your failures, and just be human.

Am I guilty of not being truly who I am online? Probably. And probably many others as well. I'm not trying to get down on anyone, but it's just so easy to be different from who you really are online and I know many people do it. So my advice to you is to just be yourself online as I try to do, although I'm not perfect.

My mom keeps a journal and she's been keeping journals since she was little. There was no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram, to turn to. Just her and her thoughts.

And maybe one of the reasons we don't keep private journals anymore is because we find it boring to talk to a book. I mean let's face it, would you rather post on Facebook that you won a 1st place gymnastics trophy today and get some likes and comments from others telling you how awesome that is, or would you rather write in a book which gives you a pale, white stare? When you posting something online, there's a chance someone will see it; there's a chance that someone will think of you for a moment or even take action to like it or tell you how much you like it. With a journal, especially because there's much more private information in it than a social networking site, you're most likely going to be the only person to ever see what you wrote. And twenty years from now, when feeling a bit nostalgic, are you really going to go on to look at your old Facebook posts in a nice, organized, chronologically-ordered list or are you going to try to leaf through your paper journal to try to find an interesting time in your life (hopefully, you bookmarked those parts)? Although this problem of trying to find something manually can be solved by a journal application, since it's a journal there's going to be a lot of superfluous and uninteresting information that only applied to that day. Isn't it still going to be burdensome trying to find something to read versus seeing what cool, outdated links you Tweeted that one day?

Really, it seems the only point of keeping a journal now is if you like to record your day in great detail (maybe to relieve stress or because you know you'd find that interesting in the future), to put down sensitive information, or because you don't trust social networking sites with their longevity as a service or their privacy policies. It seems like a lot of people don't really care about these because there are a stunning lack of journal takers it seems, at least in my generation.

But regardless, keep journaling journalers, like my mom, and keep posting social butterflies. If you've never tried journaling, I suggest you try it, just for a little while; you might just find it's your cup of tea.

 - Aidan

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