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07.08.2003 - 11:12 a.m.


Let's talk hypothetically, you and I.

Say you have an online journal. Let's call it…"Sundry Mourning". Or maybe it's called "Much Ado About Everything", because you have that up at the top like it's some sort of tagline or something, but let's face it, that's not very catchy, and frankly the whole username/slogan thing isn't really working for you in terms of brand management, you know?


You write lighthearted ditties about your everyday life, for the most part. Nothing too controversial, nothing too outrageous. You're not, like, Uncle Fucking Bob here. (Although you do drop the F bomb on a fairly regular basis. Kaboom!)

So let's say you write an entry that is primarily about your father's wife. Let's say it's not very flattering. Let's say it's not something you would want him to read.

Let's say, for the sake of this hypothetical discussion, that if someone were to google the term "marionberry margarita", to find a recipe perhaps, your diary would be the second result on the page.

Oh hell. Let's just make the leap together, shall we? By random means, your father read your diary. Not only that, but he stumbled upon the one entry that came with a goddamn lifetime warranty for hurt feelings.

What do you do? Panic! Delete the entry (blah-blah-barn-door-escaped-horse-cakes)! Fire off a defensive email explaining why the words written in journals are private, even if they ARE on the internet! Lock the diary!

Re-visit that entry about eight hundred thousand times in your own head, and cringe every single fucking time.

I don't write anything in my journal that I wouldn't want anyone in the world to see, I've said before. As if I knew better. As if that were even true! Who was I kidding - myself? I guess I just thought, somehow, that only the people I wanted to read the journal would find it.

I've been thinking a lot about the thorny issues of anonymity and privacy. Why I use a pseudonym, and what I think that protects me from. It's just a thin veil, so easily torn aside. If anyone really wanted to, it's pretty easy to figure out what company I work for, and therefore anything I write about Workplace is basically unprofessional behind-the-scenes commentary. It's the sort of thing that might get me fired at a more traditional office.

So: common sense when writing. That's important. But when does the censor filter become too much? When is this journal simply squashed to a superficial pile of bullshit, because I'm afraid to write about topics A - Z?

I thought about closing this journal. The idea that there is no longer the comfortable (though obviously not valid) feeling of privacy - that someone I would never want reading this is able to - and, for the first time, the real understanding of repercussions connected with writing about my life in a public forum.

But you know what? It literally brought tears to my eyes to think about abandoning this place. It's become way too important to me to just…stop.

I never thought something I wrote here could be hurtful to anyone. But that was because I assumed the people who might be hurt would never read this.

That, friends, is a bad assumption to make.

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23 comments so far.

I have moved. - 1.03.2005
Obviously, a work in progress. - 12.27.2004
Happy holidays! - 12.24.2004
Listen, I am not a complete dick, it's not like I want Joe to die alone surrounded by cats or something. - 12.23.2004
Plus I am convinced my butt is extra big when it's upside down. - 12.22.2004

yay, diaryland