After publishing the first issue of my paper fanzine, one of my readers expressed concern that I might not realize how much I was revealing about myself. I thought that was a little silly; how could I write this stuff without knowing?
But in fact I say things on paper and on-line that I would never say in conversation. In part, that's because I don't need an excuse or a conversational opening to talk about myself. And in part it's because the role of the audience in this form of communication is different, more passive: I can say what I feel without seeming to beg for admiration or sympathy.
But just because I can discuss personal topics doesn't mean that I should. That would be like a game designer deciding that if your computer is capable of making loud obnoxious sounds it must be because you want it to make loud obnoxious sounds. If I choose to reveal something it's because I think you'll find it interesting, and it's something I would like you to know.
The important point is this: the people who know me well like me. I believe strongly that that is because I am a good person, an admirable person, a person worth befriending. I'm confident that allowing people to know me better will have only good effects. And exposing myself has the curious effect of reinforcing that confidence.
That doesn't mean there aren't areas that I consider private, or that I'm going to tell you what they are. I've told you about the times I've been stupid, but I won't tell you about the times when I'm rude, selfish, or petty. This journal isn't an unfiltered window into my soul.
Obligatory link: this essay was inspired by Diana Rowland's most recent entry in her journal, Contradistinctions.
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Speaking of journals: I've put together a list of twelve other online journals, for those who are interested in the form.
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