Steve Woods

Social Media and the New Public Diary

In What Day is it? on September 22, 2009 at 11:32 am

“In the long history of humankind (and animal-kind too,) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” – Charles Darwin

Dear diary...

Dear diary...

In 2006 Susan Neri-Friedwalk of the New Behavior Institute declared this day to be Dear Diary Day, in the hopes that individuals would learn the healing value of journaling their thoughts. Susan believes, as many do, that to open yourself up, even in the most private manner of journaling, can help you figure out (and even overcome) the issues you perceive in your day-to-day life.

Why I Failed at Journaling Before…

I tried journaling many times in my life, but stopped for a variety of reasons.  When I was a young boy, I discovered that my diary was not always safe from prying eyes. There are few events more embarrassing than to have Mom questioning me as to the language I used in writing how I felt she was being unfair, or undergoing the sheer agony of my little sister caricaturing at the dinner table my feelings toward one cheerleader or another, for all to hear…

When I was a bit older, I tried once again to put thoughts down on paper, but lacked the perseverance to stick to it, as my fickle desires pulled me one way or another literally on a daily basis. And I am regretting that loss –  Oh, but to have had that wealth of emotion to pour over these days again, to see my soul when it lived just below the surface of the skin… Every love was a storm, every wrong word spoken a deep, endless wound… Would I be disappointed in my life’s accomplishments to date, if I could peruse once again my teenage hopes and dreams?  Would I spend hours rolling in laughter at myself?

Should I Begin a Journal Now?

Why should I consider starting again, to ponder the putting of pen to paper and peeling away the layers, page by page, day by day? According to Susan, “Journaling can help you work through many issues… “  Hey, I’ve been married and divorced twice. One of my daughters has Asperger’s Syndrome.  My lovely fiancée has three kids, one a high-functioning Autistic. We work full time, have busy after-work schedules, and strive to keep our extended families close. On top of this, I rarely pass up an opportunity to help a good cause in furthering their social media presence (think Aquathon… and I do have something even bigger in the works…) Yes, I have issues in my life. We all do.  It would likely help to be able to sort my frustrations, desires, happy moments, in a place where I can revisit, where I can escape…

What to write? How to start? Do I begin with any problems I have, recounting them like sticky pennies pulled from some dark pocket? Would it help to do so, and would it ultimately bring me to a more positive outcome? When Susan created this holiday, she added to the would-be journaler: “Often you discover that, although you begin with negatives, fears and doubts, as you continue writing you work through those thoughts and feelings and finish by feeling positive, strong, and hopeful. You often resolve the issue for yourself and feel better.” Boy, that sounds pretty good… but am I already doing this to some extent.

Social Media as the New Diary

Social media becoming the new diary?

Social media becoming the new diary?

Social media in many ways has replaced the personal journal. When I began using the Internet many years ago, I was warned over and over, to never, NEVER provide personal information. Never tell people who you were, never post a photo. Never tell people about your life, because they could use it against you later, or could steal your identity. All common sense safety measures aside, these tidbits of advice seem to have been thrown on their ear.

Today, we post the very things (albeit 140 – 160 characters at a time, blogging aside,) we would typically place in a written journal. For some of us, the most intimate details of our lives are typed in for all of our “followers” or “friends” to see. No more worrying about our little sister reading that we put on socks that don’t match the outfit, when we tell it to hundreds (or even thousands) of individuals all over the globe.

Collaborative Journaling through Social Media

The wonderful thing about social media is that our micro-blogged journal entries rapidly become collaborative tools for growth. If someone lets their friends know that they are dealing with something, quite often there is someone more than happy to provide support, as best they can, genuine in nature and often from hard life experience.  Got a joy to share? Once again, in that steady stream of information we discover someone more than willing to congratulate us. And the opportunities for reciprocity in this regard remain endless. We can reach out to more people than ever in life, if only for a few minutes… Often, in that minute, we grow a little more…

To be sure, many of us remain relatively guarded in what we say online, but we often enjoy those that are the social exhibitionists, the ones who tell you when they are in love, angry at the boss, worried and confused, crying, feeling fat, or laughing at the neighbor. You know who I am talking about. We watch them journal online in a far, far more personal manner than most ever would…

Are We Returning to the Tribe?

Are we as a society, through social media, learning to move from isolated, painfully slow personal growth to mutualistic group-growth? Are we returning to our primitive small village roots through today’s technology, accelerating ourselves through the tribal synergism of group experience? We all lost our villages long ago when our predecessors moved to the suburbs; are we rediscovering them here, online? Has the diary began speaking back to us?

The quote by Charles Darwin, strange as it might’ve seemed juxtaposed under the topic of Diary Day, was for a reason.  I believe those of us that embrace the ability to link our lives into social media, to collaborate not only in business but also on a personal level, to find our social tribes again, will find ourselves prevailing in our desire to grow, to become what we were meant to be, as persons and as microcosms of society.

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  1. […] spoke earlier about how social media has brought us back in time,as we redevelop the tribes we once lost, albeit social ones. Are we going even further back?  Do […]

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