Please, please, open the door, I pleaded, experiencing my first ever panic attack as my best friend remained locked away in the bathroom with my precious diary.
I was just 16 years old and already planning the suicide letter I’d leave my parents. If he read my diary, I’d never be able to face him, or anyone, ever again.
Fast forward 25+ years and how things have changed! Modern day versions of diaries are splashed all over the internet for all to see in the guise of blogs and social media posts.
Although often extolled as a replacement for our now dated’ journals, when comparing my own personal experiences of journaling and social media, I can’t help but feel they are worlds apart.
Even more so, it struck me that re-introducing the concept of old fashioned journaling could be an antidote to some of the problems we’re experiencing on-line.
There is something unique about journal writing that is being lost in our cyberspace world; most obviously, the privacy of it.
Neatly packed away in boxes in my parents garage lie over 15 years of journals. Volumes and volumes of my thoughts, experiences and dreams – all written exclusively for me.
Ironically, although we call them selfies’, the pictures and/or posts on social media really have nothing to do with us. They are taken or written for the other’.
Social media posts are not for ourselves – like my diary – to release, digest and learn from, but rather to inform, impress or share with others.
As a result, what often happens is a type of filtering of our lives either based on what we want others to think about us, or what we believe others want to read or hear.
On the contrary, my journals were heartbreakingly raw and candid. It’s where I created my relationship with my-self’. Where I got to know me; my loves, fears, desires, strengths and weaknesses.
I wrote freely, often without sentence structure.
It was all about expressing and letting go with no judgement or expectation. Although they were yet to be invented’, I needed no likes, shares, re-tweets or comments.
My diary was my closest confidant; it held all my secrets. It experienced the deluge of emotions from my first cut in love; it was engulfed by my despair at losing my first grandparent; it contained my confusion around the passage into puberty; it soaked up my tears from the bitchiness of teenage years; it was my companion when there was no one else around. It supported me when I didn’t even understand what support really was.
A friend of mine shared with me recently that she’s uncomfortable with the term self-love, thinking it supports the all-about-me’ generation of today.
When I hear this I’m saddened as real self-love, which I prefer to call self-value and self-acceptance, has nothing to do with the selfie’ culture.
Real self-love is about valuing our own selves just as we are; no filter attached.
It requires no validation from others. My journal provided me with my very first experience of this.
As it turned out, my best friend all those years ago never read my diary, he was just trying to push my buttons that he knew how to play so well.
However the fear I experienced in that moment was real; it was a taste of what it may have been like to be totally vulnerable with someone, yet it would’ve been terrible timing if it had happened. We were too young for that.
We were too young to hold one another’s fears, loves, dreams and open questions. We didn’t have the skills or life experience to deal with the consequences.
This demonstrates another reason why journal writing may be a lost art that needs resurrecting.
It provides us with a safe haven to toy with this idea of vulnerability. Something the internet does not.
As a teenager it wasn’t always easy transferring the same honesty I had with my diary to my non-diary life, but it didn’t matter.
As long as I had a place to hone the skill, I knew that with the confidence that comes with maturity, I’d eventually be able to move it from the private page to the public forum.
In fact, my journaling days were where I developed a love for writing and practiced my trade.
Along with life experience, I attribute those years of confessions’ as the impetus for me being able to write today with openness, vulnerability and rawness.
In social media we’re missing two key aspects of journal writing: the full transparency and the secrecy and sacredness of a home just for us.
Perhaps, if we all had a place to be ourselves, to relish in own thoughts and experiences unfiltered, we may start to see and value ourselves a little differently too.
We all need a sacred place – just for us!
Thanks Hannah for your comment. I agree with you that social media is now part of our lives and isn’t going anywhere and I believe it has an important role to play in our modern day communications and thus has many benefits. What worries me sometimes is the way it is used and our over reliance on the one channel. In writing the blog post I was hoping to raise an alternate option to explore our most intimate thoughts and feelings; in a safe place of non judgement or expectations. Based on my personal experience I believe everyone – writer or non writer – could benefit, at least once in their lives, from the experience that comes alongside writing a journal. It can be life changing!
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Sharon,I hear you,but I think it is too late for most. Social media is so entrenched in everyone’s lives and as each day passes becomes more so. Sadly not many people keep their lives private any more. Let’s hope that one day the tables will turn but I fear not.