Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Thinking out loud

I've started blogs, over the years, with the intention of using them as an outlet for my stress. An online journal. An open diary. With comments enabled on all of them. Which begs the question:

If this were a true outlet for stress, a true journal, why have comments enabled?

The chances of getting derogatory and nasty comments are great, which is why I've moved my blog so much over the years, and also why that little blurb in the About Me section is there. Luckily, with this one, I've not. I've only gotten thought provoking, or quasi-sarcastic comments. Nothing nasty, and I'm very grateful for that and thank the few commenters I've had (armaedes, princess ladybug, valerene) for being respectful and kind.

But I still ask myself: am I really accomplishing what I want with this blog, by allowing comments? Or is the fear of appearing to be a "pussy" by turning off comments, overriding my need for carthasis?

Though this blog is only a few days old, my blogging experience is not. And I have found myself worried more with who's commenting, are there any comments, or what are people saying, than whether or not I'm reaching my goal. Doesn't that defeat the purpose?

Private journaling is just that: private. Generally hand written, in a book of paper. The only person that sees it or reads it is the author. The thoughts expressed are done so in a non-censored way, with no regards to spelling, political correctness or caring what someone else may or may not think. It's a completely honest journal, with the end result being catharsis.

Online journaling is public. Anyone with access to the internet can search blogs and read what someone else is thinking or feeling, and if comments are enabled, comment. Some use the comments section to belittle and judge. Others honestly comment and offer their perspective, which can be enlightening, funny, and a form of validation.

In this age of technology, where everything that a person thinks or feels can be transmitted within seconds (depending on your internet connection) and commented on just as quickly, are we bypassing that old custom of writing just to get the thoughts and feelings out, and becoming more concerned with how others see us? Or is it that we've always been concerned with how others see us, and with this technology we can get instant gratification and/or validation?

I personally prefer online journaling. It's easier than trying to find a pen that writes, or having to look up the spelling of a particular word, when I can just sit here at my desk, let my fingers pound the keys, hit backspace when I screw up, then click on spellcheck when I'm done. Never mind trying to find a journal that is large enough for me to write in, and spending the money it would cost for it. I'm already paying for this internet connection, and this blog is free. But I'm still concerned with what comments are being left, and find myself checking that first thing in the morning after my computer is booted up. Right after checking email.

So, is the need for validation greater than the need for self-expression? Am I going to censure myself, knowing that the world can read what I'm typing here, so as not to offend their delicate systems? Will I be more concerned about offending people I don't know and will more than likely never meet, than with my own well being?

At this moment, I have no idea. It's something I'm thinking about, but have no idea what the outcome will be.