First post of 2015
and I write about the most egocentric thing possible - my diary. As a bit of
background information, I have kept a daily diary since 2006, but only in 2008
did it become truly a daily diary. To get pedantic about it, the terminology of
this whole business of writing thoughts down in a book to keep for all
posterity does differentiate between 'diary' and 'journal,' and up until
recently, I didn’t think there really was a difference.
I think that matter
of wording is a discussion for another time, but essentially, what I do - and
what many, many others before and after me have done/will do - is a mix of what
'diary' and 'journal' suggest. Every night, shortly before I go to sleep, I write
an entry into a book. The entry accomplishes a few things:
It serves as a record of what
I did in a given day
It logs my emotions regarding
what I did/observed/experienced/thought about in a given day
It keeps track of persons of
interest - more on this later
It is a genuine and
near-perfect representation of who I am on a day-to-day basis. It is
honest. It recreates the individual that I was - mental, emotional
individual - with the highest fidelity. It is unrevised and uncensored
For most people who
keep a diary-type thing, the concept of someone else reading these texts is
pretty darn abhorrent. What more personal document can there be? - and by what
sense of entitlement does someone ask to read someone else's diary?
Recently, a friend
of mine named ZZ asked to read my diary. We were talking about writing and how
our styles/content/relationship to our work is about as different as potted
plants and bubblegum. He, like many people that know me in real life, knew that
I kept a diary, and then he asked to read it.
I've been around him
enough to know that there wasn't any sort of ill-intent, so I laughed at him,
told him how preposterous his request was, and told him no.
It's personal stuff,
and it's private. And still, "Why not? Can I just see today's entry?"
So I gave him a
description of that day's entry, which was a laundry-list of my activities for
the day. Since I was around him for most of the day, it was no news. But then,
he asked, "If it's just that, then why can't I read it?"
I wasn't going to
budge, and gave him what I thought was a pretty good explanation for why nobody
is entitled to read another person's diary - and that seemed to satisfy him.
Here is something like it, but I've added some other thoughts:
The whole point of a
diary for myself and myself only. It's the only place/object thing that
contains this pure, unaltered version of myself beyond the confines of my own
brain. I can share my body and I can share my thoughts by talking to other
people - and that's physical and emotional intimacy there - but those things
are not as private as my own brain, the sum total of all the things I've
experienced and observed and gave a first, second, nth thought to. All that is
private, and that's simply impossible to share. When I write that down, I share
these things to an inanimate object, whose only measure of life is the one that
I give in that moment, and the next dose when I read it over again.
Surely all that is
too cerebral - and that's my joke of the entry - but even as I told ZZ
something along those lines, I got to thinking about how it is I even value
privacy at the level that I do. Surely, by all the things movies and literature
have told us, diaries are private. If the heroine's sister peeks at it, she'll
wallow in misery and throw a fit. If the heroine's crush reads it and finds out
all the soppy details of her unrequited love, then she's mortified but the plot
a precedent for taboo, but privacy and violation of it serve as points of
drama. It gives a template for normal folks like ourselves to relate to and
react to the words we put out, personal diaries and journals or other. Privacy
- define it as you like.
pour their emotions and personal matters out onto the Internet. I write these
little things on this blog, and my sister writes essays. She writes extensively
about her thoughts/opinions/criticism/analysis of topics that may or may not have
a direct influence on her life - and still, it's more personal than anything
I'd like to write for the Internet. One of my friends puts his familial agonies
on the same Tumblr that has his face on it. Another friend of mine shares her
love poems, but without her name or her face.
All these -
different definitions of privacy. At the end of it, who could possibly,
speaking from a point of logistics and practicality, read my diary but someone
who knows my full name, my face, and have some level of intimacy with me?
That's too much for me. And, as I said to ZZ, the only person that has looked
inside that sacred document, was my sister, and only then with the purpose of
finding a password that I thought I lost.