Do you remember when something as simple as a balloon on a stick made you happy as a child?
mnml asked a good question recently. I remember a time when a balloon made me happy as a child, but I don't remember why it made me happy. Nor do I remember what the feeling was like to be happy with a balloon. That's kinda sad to be honest. This is one of the unfortunate things about growing up.
That “something else” might be something similar to the Hawthorne's. Of course it might not be on that intimate of a level, but to have another individual read our entries and build a joint narrative alongside us – a vision of writing on the web as writing in a shared journal.
I think CJ Eller in this post touched upon something that I didn't know was at the back of my mind; part of me wants my close friends to also be writing journals or writing on their own blogs.
Back when I was in high school, it was me and a couple of friends who were always playing around with computers and consequently the internet. We had our own Archmage guild. We tried to find ways to end up in the same kingdom when playing Utopia. We spent countless nights hanging out on mIRC channels. We had customized Friendster profiles. We had our own blogs. We basically followed each other online, just like close friends do.
Dino Bansigan is concerned about writing “more for myself and less to an audience” but I find myself wondering why those must be seen as mutually exclusive. Is it not possible to write for oneself yet to an audience?
For some reason, I cannot wrap my head around the concept of writing for myself, but at the same time writing to an audience. I feel like if I can just look at it from a different angle though, I would figure it out. The closest thing I can think of, is writing for myself but writing in such a way that the content is palatable to readers. But then, wouldn't I be writing to an audience?
I'm using the pronoun “we”, instead of “I” when I'm writing a post.
I'm trying to add context to my post, or trying to explain something in my post, which would not have been necessary had I been the only intended audience. For example, trying to explain or justify why I made a specific decision is a hint that I'm writing to an audience other than myself.
I'm writing in a way as to encourage comments from readers. – I don't really do this on posts on this online journal, but more so on posts on my dev blog.
If I keep those listed cues in mind, I should be able to write more for myself and less to an audience.
I want to get back to writing for myself. When I started this online journal, all I was looking for was a place to write down my thoughts. A place where I can express myself. An outlet. A hobby.
Somewhere along the way I lost sight of this. I bought into the idea that I should write posts that have value. And that those were the only kind of posts worth writing about. And while that is a very admirable goal, I realized that I could not sustain that kind of effort. Not when I work full time as a senior software developer. I also realized that it changed how I write: I was writing for the views; I was writing to an audience.
Work is not supposed to be fun. By work, I mean the kind where you are getting paid to provide a service to a company or employer or client. By that definition, it is almost guaranteed that sooner or later you will be asked to do something that is not fun.
I believe it is rare for someone to have a job that is also fun 100% of the time. An example are professional athletes. I'm sure they enjoy the sport they participate in, but even they have to put in the work to improve their game and their physical conditioning. That is just part of the job.
I'll use myself as another example. I love programming and I love solving problems by writing code to solve them. To me that's fun. However, working as a software developer is not “solving problems by writing code” 100% of the time. I still have to drive through traffic to get to and from the office. I still need to write documentation. I still need to work through ugly legacy code. I still need to do code reviews. I still need to train new developers. I still need to do compliance training. I still need to attend meetings. The list goes on and on and on. All of that comes as part of being employed as a software developer. None of those are necessarily fun, but they are to be expected of me, because that is part of the job. That is the work that needs to be done.
After my digital declutter, I thought I'd change the focus of my online journal. Less personal posts, more post of “value”. What I didn't realize then, but do now, is that almost every post on a person's blog, journal or website is personal commentary. You just cannot get away from it because you are the author. Unless you are copying someone else's work and writing it down, the thoughts that you transform into words are all personal. Your environment, your knowledge, your culture, your experiences, they are all personal aspects that determine the words that you write down.
When I look back at my posts on the loaner car that I got, I see that everything I wrote, my observations, my notes, they were all personal commentary. When I look back at the book reviews I've written, they're all personal commentary. Even my posts on digital minimalism, which are the posts that I think are of “value”, they are all still personal commentary.
I think I was looking at it the wrong way. It might be the case that personal commentary on a subject, is what gives a post value.
It is actually kind of embarrassing to look back on it, thinking I could have avoided personal commentary on my posts. I was naive then, but as is the case with life, you live and you learn. If I cannot avoid personal commentary, I might as well embrace it.
We all have our own values, likes, wants and preferences. No ones lives the same exact life as someone else. Everyone's circumstance is different and that shapes the decisions they make in their lives.
You will never make the same decisions as other people, because you are not living, nor have lived the same life that they've had. As such, we cannot expect other people to do or act the same way as we would, because we all live different lives.
Stepping on other people's life choices to make ourselves feel better, is not cool.
We are all different and that is okay. The important thing is that we all respect each other's differences, whether that be online or offline.
I struggle with this everyday. Whenever I do, I try to remember what my wife always likes to say, “Stay in your lane, bro.”