The act of writing is always intriguing. To see someone writing, cracks my curiosity wide open.
When I was young, I saw a classmate writing what seemed a letter. Without any conscience whatsoever I asked what she was writing and she replied: mind your own business!
This stuck with me. How dare I ask someone what he or she is writing, how dare I ask what he or she is about?
This is why I dislike small talk so much. It’s the act of never finding out what the person is about and yet, I always set a limit as to what I’m allowed to ask, even when I know people love to talk about themselves.
When blogs came along, it was paradise for me because I could read other people’s notebooks! Other people’s inner thoughts, something I could never do before. And they didn’t even have to know I was reading. Suddenly everyone was fascinating. I put people who blogged in an entire different category than everyday people: they were interesting. And I also blogged, so I was interesting too. For an introvert, this was paradise. I “talked” to people left and right, I started my email conversations with direct questions, no beating around the bush, no: where are you from? Do you have brothers and sisters? or the dreaded what do you do?
Empathy flowed freely. People wrote like no one was reading and it was beautiful.
Monetizing, Social Networks, How-to’s, Coaches
Then at one point there was this strange shift, with the democratization of blogging platforms out came the business world.
It was inevitable. Every revolution gets televised, monetized and ultimately killed. Just look at what’s happening to Net Neutrality. Look at natural resources…
Suddenly, people were writing too much. From things that sounded artificial to irrelevant inner monologues.
With the advent of Twitter, WordPress, Medium and other publishing platforms, writing shifted from reflection to pontification and we all fell into the trap. In 2009 I opened my Twitter account at the same time I closed my longest running blog. I also opened a Tumblr account to “scoop” the things I liked. I started chasing privacy by not publishing about my life so openly. To guard the people in my life that are not interested in being online at all, but with Twitter, the compulsion to publish the tiniest thought became uncontrollable. And I have a measly 5000 tweets unlike people who have hundreds of thousands.
Writing Online and Privacy
It’s difficult to calibrate. I love to write and when you write you rarely do it for yourself. You want to be read. Some of us want to find kindred spirits. Nothing makes me happier than someone writing: I feel like loneliness evaporates for a second.
The most important thing is that I’ve been aware of the algorithm lurking in our lives for a long time. The worst proof of this is managing my employers Facebook account when I don’t have one personally and seeing people I know pop up as suggestions. People who would never in a million years look at my employer’s page.
That was the first time I ever felt truly concerned. My personal email was nowhere linked to that FB account and yet, cousins who live in another country started appearing on my employer’s page. This was creepy.
I think I’ve written hundreds of essays regarding my desire to “retire” from the web. But it’s not realistic. I need the web too much, I love it in fact. I just hate to feel squeezed. Like if there is no internet, there is nothing and the power of few is ruling the world.
I’m at that point where Twitter has become tasteless and I’m really phasing out. I’ve used it successfully to arrange certain things with companies and services. That’s about it. Someone published a tweet recently that disarmed me completely:
None of my heroes are on Facebook.
There is nothing to say there. Really.
I snooped into someone’s diary. It wasn’t an intimate diary, it was more like a log of time and events although a bit obsessive, down to 5 minute intervals: “We left at 1:35, we arrived at 2:03. We started lunch at 12:23 we finished at 12:58.”
I found it fascinating, in between entries, there were doodles and and ideas for renovations.
I didn’t feel proud of myself but it sparked something in me. I want to record and write and keep. I want to write like I wrote in the early days of LiveJournal and Blogger, when there was no Wayback machine or Caché. When Google took ages to index your page.
I wanted to record specific moments, meals, feelings, thoughts -good ones and bad ones- and document myself again instead of watching others document themselves in public.
This journal gave me the spark to divide my life in two:
- Regroup my internet presence into one website built by me.
- Have a rich life offline that I can look back on and that when I’m gone it will be gone too.
This is a lot of work but the first step is taken. This site got built.
Here it is. First real post on my brand new site.