Sunday, October 17, 2010

Blogs and Journals are Different. Next?

After church today, I finished editing a friend's church history paper, played Halo, went on a walk with my wife, and played some more Halo with one of my best friends. All of it—including the paper-editing, strangely enough—was incredibly relaxing. That's a good thing; I've needed to sit back and relax a bit. Courtesy of our busy schedule, opportunities to sit back and relax for any lengthy periods of time have been few and far between. Even when we are not doing something work-like, we have often been engaged socially, and as I noted the other day, I'm an introvert. I need time simply doing something by myself without interruptions.

I suppose that introversion is a significant part of why I enjoy blogging, writing for Pillar, and editing people's papers so much. Each is an activity I can do that ultimately reaches others in some way, but that I can do by myself, in the solitude of my own mind. Aside from the occasional (enjoyable) interruption by Jaimie, nothing really comes between me and the keys I type; I am alone with my thoughts and able to really process whatever is going on in life. THe same always held true for journaling, back when I journaled more frequently.

Journaling and blogging are less similar than they might at first appear. The one is private and the other public, of course, and that radically impacts the way that one writes. The things I put down in a journal, I was confident no one but me would ever read—or at least, no one but me and the people I choose to share those pages with. Thus, I could be completely and utterly open, dealing in very great detail with pains, struggles, frustrations, etc. I could name names when people hurt or angered me; I could rant to my heart's content; I could ramble on without fear of an audience growing bored. The sole point was expressing (and thereby expiating) emotion for which I had no other outlet.

Blogging, by contrast, is inherently social and searchable. If I were to write, "PJ King is a jerk" in a moment of annoyance at him, it would show up in his reader the next day, and be recorded across the internet in perpetuity—possibly remaining even if I took it down, thanks to the way that some internet archives work. In any case, word would get back to him; our friendship would be damaged, and things would require patching up that would never even have occurred were I to put my frustration to pen and paper rather than keyboard and screen. (Not to worry: I have never been tempted to write anything of the sort about him; he's a very excellent fellow.)

The other significant way in which blogging differs from journaling is the medium. Tapping away at keys and watching text scroll across a screen as you write is a very different experience from ink scratching across a page as you drag your hand along to form the letters' shape. The medium informs the words chosen, the mood set, the feel of it all. It is strange, almost inexpressible, but true. (I suspect this is a significant part of why, despite my best efforts, any electronic journaling attempt I ever made failed within days: it's simply not the same thing. Transpose the medium, and you have changed the message embedded therein. That's a truth we would do well to remember better, as our lives are constantly bombarded with new forms of media and new ways of processing information. Not all ways of processing data are equal—in fact, none are. Each has tradeoffs and balances that must be considered.

Over the course of this week, I may just try to write one journal entry—a real journal entry. We'll see. At the least, I will continue to make time to enjoy some solitude, lest I let myself be overwhelmed by socialization. I will write a book review for Pillar, put up my daily posts here, do some web design work, and do my daily tasks—but hopefully, I will do them well, and I will remember to enjoy the Sabbath along the way. (That's a post for a future day, though the thought underlies much of what I have written here.)

1 comment:

  1. um... but you did just post on the internet that I'm a jerk. :P

    Also, I turned in my church history paper an hour ago. The edits definitely helped.


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