Writing, or A Rose-tinted Reflection on LiveJournal vs. New Social Media

I am a writer who currently doesn’t write. Something about that seems wrong, so I am trying to establish a new habit: write. Every day, write. This is accepted practice among writers and writing educators, but I like to make myself an exception to most rules, apparently.

I used to write in LiveJournal allll the time, and it was wonderful. Over the past 10+ years since I abandoned that endeavor, I have occasionally gone back to read my old reflections and have found great insight into the development of my character. I think in many ways, even though I did most of my undergrad after the LJ days, a lot of the evolution of me came about during that time. Writing on LJ was weird. It was part diary, part epistle, and part newsfeed. Internet self-expression in the early 2000s was a mostly-unexplored frontier, and those of us who went West then helped establish conventions and expectations that are now commonplace, and yet…. The wild west eventually gave way to law and order, and internet sharing has been corralled into a variety of acceptable genres: your Facebook updates, your Twitter tweets, your Youtube videos and comments, your Instagram insta-pic thingies, your Tumblr things (I don’t pretend to have even the vaguest notion of what goes on in there), your personal/professional/topical Blog, etc. As I attempt to set up my writing/ publication habit, I think I am going to miss the easy hybridity of good ol’ Livejournal, if for nothing other than that writing in that way is what I know. I am not sure, right now, who I am writing for, or what I am writing about. With LJ, those were easy problems to solve: you wrote for your fellow LJers, and you wrote about whatever you damn well pleased.  One could attract LJ followers in any number of ways, but my favorite was by “like”-stalking. I am not sure it was called “likes,” but on your profile page was a list of up to 50 (I think) things that you were interested in, and each one linked to a page that listed all the profiles of individuals and groups who were also interested in that one thing. It was awesome to find someone, through a series of link-following, who had several of your most-loved interests in common with you. Like, boom!, instant friend. And it wasn’t based on photos, since there was very little of that in those days. It was based on interests and writing. I mean, since writing was the main medium used by Livejournal, then obviously writing was the primary way through which you became acquainted with other LJers. And, as a writing site, it attracted lots of writers. And writers like writers, especially good writers. So it was basically just a big huge writer’s convention, 24/7, filled with interesting people delving deeply into interesting topics, because that’s what writers do (as opposed to taking selfies, attempting to gain subscriptions for the sake of appearing popular, trying to get views to capitalize on ad revenue, trying to one-up other people in un-researched “arguments,” or attempting to present, through words, photos, and “check-ins,” an idealized image of one’s life).

I digress. Now that I think of it, I think LiveJournal still exists, though I expect it has morphed into something more in-line with the mainstream social media of today. I probably could just go make a new LJ, or even pick up my old one as if someone born on the day I made my last post isn’t about to graduate middle school in a few months.  Probably a few of my old followers still post, and maybe some of them even miss me, but then again, that me is gone. I fear that the silence of my inner writing voice during the past decade has created an irreversible break in the development of the person I used to be; I can’t write myself a retroactive bridge to connect the me of today to the me of then. This makes me sad, because, while I like myself now, and I am pleased with the development of my stances on issues that are important to me, I think I am grown more silent and less playful. More concerned and less creative. More wishful and more activist, which are fantastic developments, but more stifled because I also feel more powerless. This does, after all, get me to my purpose for starting this blog. I am a writer, and writing, while in the past presenting mainly the means for my emotional and creative development, is also a powerful tool for creating change in the real world. In the past, I lacked the context and connection to the larger world that would have enabled my vigor and passion to escape the confines of self-absorbed angst. With the passage of time, the development of new media, and my personal engagement in the world of professionalism, politics, adulthood, and academia, I think I can connect my activist nature with a cause. With many causes. It will start with writing, just writing to exercise the writing muscles, and writing to exercise the thinking muscles. What I will write about, the forms it will take, how silly or serious or topical it will be, I cannot say. But I have to write. I believe we all do.