There are real downsides to writing about your life on the internet. For one thing, “sharing” — in the form of your deepest feelings or the most benign observations — starts to become a knee-jerk reaction every time something happens. A particularly awesome development on “Lost”? Tweet your reaction during the commercial break. Feeling inexplicably sad because the person you have a crush on doesn’t seem to give a s**t? Tweet “FMLFMLFML” and then pen a blog post about it the next day. Eventually you realize that your internal filter — the part of you that says, “I think I am going to keep this to myself” — has switched off. That’s what’s happened to me.For years, like many girls, I kept a journal. When I was a teen, my diary was a Word doc on my Macintosh Classic and I wrote in it for hours and hours everyday. It was where I vented everything — which boys I loved, how I feared that I would never, ever have sex, how I felt alienated from everyone at school, even my friends. I stopped keeping a journal at some point in college, as I came into my own, got more comfortable around people, became less shy. (Yes, I was extremely shy once.) I learned, slowly, to be a little more open with people — though still not much — and as a result, I didn’t have so much bottled up inside that needed to be purged onto the page.
When I met my ex-fiance, he became the person I poured my heart out to — the best friend I ever had, that I’ve still ever had. When we broke up, not having him as my confidant was enormously painful. I’m still not very good at really being vulnerable with people — my friends or my family — but as this job has gone on, writing has again become a way for me to vent. Obviously, just as I’m doing now, I have no problem sharing with YOU in a way that I don’t share with people one-on-one. As hard as this may be for people to understand, I feel as comfortable sharing my feelings, perspectives, strengths, and weaknesses on this site as I did in my diary so many years ago. When I write, I am not fearful of being vulnerable.
Having that level of comfort is great in many ways — I like to think that a lot of what I’ve shared has been funny or interesting to read and maybe even helpful to some of you, which is enormously gratifying. My ego doesn’t bruise easily and negative comments don’t offend me — in fact, I recently joked that I was way more bummed out about some of your negative feedback on the new comments system than any nasty comments on my most personal pieces.
But it has its downsides too. I tweet everything –”Lost” reactions, drunken and teary FMLFMLFMLs, album reviews, bad date stories, everything. Very, very few topics are off-limits for me in what I write for The Frisky. Yet, as much as what I write completely reflects me, it does not reflect me completely, if that makes sense. The other day I was out with someone I’ve liked for a long time and he said something — I can’t remember verbatim, as I was about four beers deep — about knowing so much about me already based on reading my writing. That really bothered me. As if there’s no more to learn? Is there? Have I put so much out there into the internet ether that I’ve squelched every bit of the mystery I once possessed?
The thing is, writing helps me. It’s my job, for starters, but it’s also my art form, in that it’s how I express myself. It’s fun. It’s therapy. I need it. But maybe I also need to be more careful about how much of it I make available to the masses. Last night I deleted my Twitter account, just to see what it might be like to keep my 146-character purgings to myself for awhile. Instead, I might start writing in a diary again — a real one, that no one else reads.