October 17, 1999

Well, once again it has fallen upon me, your humble servant Arcterex, to babble something for our GVG while she parties it up at ALS. No, I'm not at ALS, but that's ok, work and life have been far too busy for me lately to afford to get away.

But anyway...

So, in searching for a topic for today's column, I thought about the increase I've seen lately in online journals. Yes, that's right, online journals, diaries, and the like. Seems like everyone has one these days. There are even services like scribble.nu that provide a nice interface to put all your thoughts on the net, online and available for the world to see. But I wonder why? Why do people put their private lives out for the world, or at least the net?

There are a couple of things to this though, I think. When the Internet first became popular, everyone had a web page. Hell, even I did (entitled something along the lines of "My little corner of the net" with big "under construction" sign). I think everyone has the need, no matter who they are, to see themselves in lights, to have their 15 seconds of fame. The net allowed this. ISPs provided webspace, and anyone with HTML knowledge, or an HTML editor could have Their Own Webpage!

But seeing pictures of someone's friends, dog, and a detailed description of their class schedule just doesn't satisfy. People want to see the nitty gritty. Why look at a list of some anonymous geek's friends' homepages? It's just boring and senseless to anyone who doesn't know them.

Journals are more personal. They allow a closer and more personal look into someone's life, a stranger or not. They also allow you to feel that you know someone, or follow their trials and tribulations. Almost like a soap opera-- getting a window into someone's life without them knowing about it.

That's my thinking anyway. Society today seems to lean toward voyeurism, as any day of sitting in front of daytime TV will show you. Everyone wants to get more intimate, more interactive, and more "into" other people's lives. Now, I personally don't agree with this type of view, as a lot of the time the stars or politicians don't really want everyone in the world to know who or what they are doing.

I started an online journal on November 3rd, 1996. Wow, that was a long time ago, eh? My own reasoning for it at the time was to let my parents know I was still alive, my friends know what I was up to, and as an outlet for ranting and angst. Well, it's still there and still going strong, detailing such exciting things as gas prices, bitching about HTML and forms, and ranting about CPUs. For me, it's an outlet to throw a bit of myself out onto the world.

So you want to start a journal? Good, go for it. Don't be afraid. I was told not that long ago that someone thought I was "brave" for baring my soul to the world. Well, I don't think it's brave, really; it's anonymous. I think there might be 3-5 people who read my journal, and whether that number is correct doesn't really matter. Jenni of Jennicam said once, when asked about how it feels to show your life 24/7 online, that the people weren't there. Just because 10,000 strangers are watching you live on a webcam doesn't mean that they are there in your room, or in your life, or affecting you in any "real" way.

If you want to be anonymous, use one of the free services out there, or else just throw a diary.html, journal.html, or rant.html on your web page. Put your thoughts, your dreams and your rantings there, and don't worry about what people think, or what you think they will think. Be honest, and be yourself. You're not writing to an audience, you're writing for yourself. I think that's the most important part of it, writing for yourself and being honest.

Well, this has been a short, disjointed, and rambling rant. I hope Iambe doesn't mind :)

Now, gentle readers, I take my leave of you to go relax, prepare for a day of doing very little tomorrow, and a long sleep tonight. As Iambe normally leaves you with a talkback topic, I will only ask you to discuss online journals and diaries in whatever way you see most fit. Put your URL out there, comment on someone else's, or give the rest of us links to really cool journal sites.