The Culture of the Online Journal

Seems these days everyone has a livejournal, or a Blogger page, or a Xanga site. Everyone has to plead their case, confess their guilt, or expose their pain to an audience. I have their friends who get annoyed and feel neglected because I don’t read theirs. Maybe it’s just me but I’m of an old fashioned world where we would tell friends about our troubles via a letter, or over the phone, or a cup of tea… now I’m expected to find out things my ‘friends’ want me to know by reading their online fucking newsletter. Like the fan of some minor celeb or PWA member. Yes, yes, at one time I had a Livejournal, and a Xanga site, and an online diary and I’m using Blogger right now, but I use it for my ranting primarily. The problem was I never knew if anyone really read them, and whoever I did I found the urge rise to delete it, move house and change my name by deed-poll. Nowadays If I have any friends that care enough to wish to know what’s up with me it’s nice to receive a letter/email, or a phone call, or for them to just ask “How are you?” Which is nice to hear. And it’s personal. And shows people actually care, that is if they bother to hang around for an answer and didn’t just ask it on the basis that it’s “What you ask people”.

I get people asking “Why don’t you write in your livejournal or Xanga anymore” “Or, where is your diary?”I say “I don’t wanna, it’s impersonal. I prefer people to ask me outright, talk to me one on one”. They don’t of course. Because it confuses them. These days everyone has a livejournal right? Who actually talks to their friends? That’s just weird, right?

I guess it all comes back to this modern western thing about not TOPCA people, and it means mentally too. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t hug them, don’t enquire as to their personal life. If they want you to know anything they’ll tell you. Only people won’t because they don’t want to invade anyone with their personal life.

The easy way around this? Write all your personal problems down on a page and post it somewhere public so people can look at it in privacy without feeling they are invading anyone’s personal space or privacy. The ultimate cop-out… or is that death? Or insanity? I dunno. I’m losing the tangent. I’ve though of another rant already but I’ll try and fight it off until I’ve finished this one.

Why are people afraid to communicate, make eye contact. Confirm that “Yes, I’m talking to you”. Human interaction all seems to be done in a generic way now. With no-one speaking to anyone in particular and the world can chose to listen or ignore and no-one has to really know unless someone responds… and they can do so under an alias so if eye contact gets uncomfortable they can run away and not have to deal with it another day.

Maybe that brings it all back to responsibility? No-one wants to have to take responsibility for anyone else. No-one wants to HAVE to listen, just at the same time as no-one wants to have to be seen to be talking to anyone in particular. No-one wants to really get involved and have to deal with anyone else…. then they complain about being lonely and/or lose their ability to deal with real people.

Regardless of what anyone might wish to think or try to change, the internet is a horribly impersonal place. Full of faceless people, regardless of how many mugshots they post, or webcams the set up, or nude pictures they send each other. Someone once said to me… or was it me? …that you get to know the ‘real’ person online. You don’t. That’s a pile of crap. You get to know someone’s fantasy persona online. You get to know the person that lives in their mind. This person isn’t always the best of that individual. Decent people in real life can become monstrous brash overconfident morons online, while the shy retired loner can become the life of the party… but by no means to you meet the REAL person. And in someone’s online diary you only get a portion of that individual, and worse, you’ll often get a bad portion. The egotist can become maniacal, the depressed can become insufferable. People who would normal be limited by their own social conscience or even the fear of others reactions can be let lose online without fear of people getting offended, upset, concerned or just plain violent as a result of their musings. And in worse case scenarios those who perhaps could do with more understanding and support in real life get false pity, bogus support and shallow love from anonymous donors and find themselves locked in what they can often fail to recognise as a closed prison or swamp of regret and mutually accelerated despair that can drive them to breakdown or death when all they really need is someone they know to look them in the eye and tell them it’s going to be alright and make them a cuppa, rather than the routine (hugs) of some amateur internet-counselor or emotional vampire or even a predator with a collection of naked jpegs sent to by lonely victims who got talked into the concept with the idea that the experience would somehow be liberating and would make them feel special.

Trying not to feel or be seen as a luddite I tend to think that while the ‘net is a wonderful communications device, we as a species are not built to exist there. We require personal contact with other humans on a regular basis to remain healthy. As much as cerebral interaction is good we also require semantic communication, and the all important eye contact… not to mention the fact that it’s easy to have entire conversations based on facial expression alone. I believe ALL of this is required to lead a healthy life. It’s just so unfortunate that modern society seems to becoming so afraid of human contact, the fear is that we might give ourselves away… as human.

Something to say?