This one is for all those who feel that I'm allowing myself to be exploited or find the fact my journal is online to be in some vague way irritating:
Y'ALL CAN BITE ME HARD.
I really cannot understand some people, their illogic leaves me huddled in a corner, quaking and wishing for a blunt trauma to the head to take the pain away. Let's see... here we have a group of people who share a common interest. I could refer to these folks as a community because of that shared interest, yet they're a very diverse group. They come from all cultures, all races, creeds, age brackets, income levels and religions. I suppose in that sense they really are the perfect definition of a community, because they are a collection of differing people who are united or linked together by a common aspect. Yeah, in this case its their use of LJ instead of their address or zip code, but I don't think that makes the label any less valid. We have a collection of individuals who are all posting their thoughts, experiences, dreams, sexual exploits and more online; they are all sharing them with the world at large that cares to take the time to read such things. They are bound together by the common thread, the shared experience of online journaling. Furthermore, everyone who is on LiveJournal or DeadJournal or who keeps a blog has their own reasons for doing it. Likewise, each person finds pleasure in different aspects of the act than the next person, just as they find frustrations and unpleasantness with other aspects. Very much like everything else in this world there are both good and bad aspects about online journals and web logs. Yet in the end it all boils down to one key thing: it's a hobby, it is something people do because they find enjoyment in it or use it to address a specific need.
Some people whittle, some people paint, some people wrench on nitrous-powered funny cars. I like to write in my journal (along with wrenching on my car, toying with the computers, skiing, and all the other things I do besides jot in my journal). It's a hobby. A hobby is not something to get irritated over. Would these people find it irritating if I collected and listened to old vinyl LPs, or collected Dilbert figures? Probably not. So why does this bother them so much? Are they feeling left out that they're not part of the crowd? Did they have a bad experience trying to do something similar in the past? Are they miffed that the people who have these journals aren't doing it for the reasons that they think they should have journals for? They don't like what's being written or said in these journals? Does free expression upset them or what? What is the goddamn malfunction here that makes them so cross towards a simple hobby?
I've analyzed why I like LiveJournal before, and I'll probably end up doing it again repeatedly before everything is said and done. So I will say it again: I do it for any number of reasons. For example, I write in my LiveJournal so that I can keep others (who may or may not be interested) appraised of what's going on in my life. I use it to belong to a group, because a lot of my friends have LiveJournals as well and it makes me feel even more like I'm a part of that group. I use it as a tool to help me weigh options and rationalize decisions I've made (or may have to make) because sometimes I can gain perspective by writing it down and having it all printed in front of me instead of swimming around in my head. At times I have been known to use it to solicit advice from the reading audience (primarily my friends, but other people who read it as well) about different choices or dilemmas I am presented with. Most frequently I use it as a method to vent frustrations and concerns that are weighing heavily on my mind at the moment. Let me expand on that last reason for a moment, because it's not entirely accurate. I often use my LiveJournal to vent and rant (if only I could be as loquacious and elegant as the ranting gryphon 2_gryphon) and while doing so I try to give a little something extra by attempting to educate and/or entertain while I ramble. I don't know how often I succeed, but so long as somebody gets a chuckle out of it I'm happy... even if that chuckle is from me when I reread the entry at some later date. On top of all that there is one final, insurmountable reason that I keep an online journal: it's convenient for me to do so. I've tried in past years to write in a paper journal and I just get frustrated with the whole situation; my brain works faster than my hands can write, so ideas get lost or short-changed. If I try to speed up my handwriting to go with the flow the words I put on the paper become so illegible as to be mistaken for some dead tongue from a lost civilization. Eventually I came to realize that since I grew up typing on computers I would probably be better serviced by keeping a journal on my computer. I attempted to do so in a few different ways, none of which were satisfactory for me. I couldn't use NotePad because I'd reach its maximum allowable length in a short amount of time. Using MS Word was a simple case of overkill, and neither solution afforded me the ability to sort the entries in any sort of logical manner. LiveJournal presented me with a simple, intuitive interface. It solved my storage problems, it gave me features that I didn't need but found to be rather convenient and almost indispensable after I got acquainted with them (read: mood icons and "memories"). All around LiveJournal was the solution to my problem, and it had the added benefit of being put together in such a way that other people who have journals can link to me and vice-versa, presenting me with a single point to go in and read what's going on with my friends if I haven't talked with them in a while.
That last sentence brings me to an interesting point. urocyon remarked in his journal that he's been encountering a lot of friends and acquaintances online who, when questioned as to what's new/their current state of well-being/etc have in answer pointed him to their LiveJournal or web log. I'm probably one of the offenders he references, because I know I've done similar with other folks (and I just can't remember if I've done it to him... I must be getting old, because that's when the memory goes. Or is that the eyesight? I can't remember). He quite candidly remarks that LiveJournals have in some ways taken the place of simple communication between two intelligent beings and removed the pleasure that one can feel by simply talking with a like-minded individual. The thing is that I can really see where he's coming from on that and while I don't think it's quite that prevalent I do think it's begun to encroach on the territory that once was held by simple conversation by providing an easy-to-access summary of events (assuming that said summary is written in something other than 3133+-speak by some twelve year-old dolt who speaks Ebonics as his first language and English as a distant fifth). That impersonal brush-off was most certainly not what I wanted or meant to happen when I'd pointed individuals to my LJ in answer to their questions of "how's stuff" or "what's new," though. The only reasons I would do something like that would be because I'm being questioned on a topic that I've answered multiple times in the last few hours (how's your cat) and I don't want to bore them with a longwinded answer they'll have to read when my LJ can be read at leisure... or because I'm just too exhausted to formulate an intelligent reply to their inquiry (in which case I should have just gotten my butt offline and done something to recharge my batteries, like sleep) without feeling like I was glossing over details. I still enjoy socializing (in that weird way that you're allowed to do so) online, and I certainly don't want my output in my LiveJournal to take the place of actual conversations. I crave discourse and debate. I seek intelligent thought and above all I prize sentences that have more than three syllables in them and use words that make me reach occasionally for a dictionary.
Yet I digress from my previous point. No matter what the reason, we have here a group of people who share a common interest: they're sharing -- of their own volition -- different parts of their lives, participating in a community of other individuals who have the same interest. These people are doing no harm to anyone by writing their journals and posting them publicly (I will for the moment skirt around the issue of a friend or associate reading an entry that they find upsetting/offensive and then causing something of a skirmish... sadly this is one of the downsides of public journaling, as some friends of my jenwolf have found out), and nobody is forcing anybody to read those entries. So what's so goddamn bad about keeping an online journal? Why does this individual in question find my LiveJournal to be "irritating?" If you don't like it, don't fucking read it -- yes, people it is just that simple. It's a big ol' web, I'm sure you can find something else out there to pass your time with. If it's not your bag, I'm cool with that, I can understand it... live and let live, right? But as I've said before: just because you don't like it doesn't make it bad or make me a lesser individual for participating in it.
Or maybe I'm just wrong.
I just passed a Jimmy and a White, I been passin' everything in sight