Thursday, July 22, 2004

I Journal, Therefore I AM....? anyone else as tired of hearing about the "Journal Awards" and the "First Anniversary of AOL Journals" as I am?  I don't follow THAT many journals, but these seem to be everyone's main topics lately.  B-O-R-I-N-G!!!!  I'm sorry I said that...and I know you all hate me now.  But...well, whatever.  It's just the way I feel.

Lately, I've been questioning my attachment to the journal community.  I didn't expect to experience the extremely social aspect of writing here.  I have lived a very solitary existence for the last several years, especially since I moved away from the heart of my family three years ago.  When I first came to realize that writing this journal, and reading other journals, made me part of a community, I was intrigued.  It was the social contact for which I had been aching (though I didn't realize I needed it so badly.)  Unfortunately, the whole "Journal Awards/Journal Anniversary" extravaganza has shown me that  I am, as I always have been  in anything that  vaguely resembles a social situation, on the outside looking in.  So many journalers have written about being "square pegs" in high school, college, church--fill in the blank.  But, even among this "out" crowd, I am the "outest."  On the fringes, just involved enough to realize I'm not REALLY part of the group.  To paraphrase Yukon Cornelius (of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer fame):  Even among misfits, I'm a misfit!  There's nothing like a popularity contest to drive home the point to the un-popular.  I thought I had gotten over this when I was a school kid.  But I guess you never really do...

I've had to seriously re-examine the reasons I started writing this journal to begin with.  I's what I do.  It's a very essential part of who I am.  When I found out there was a place I could do what I do, and actually run the risk of having someone read what I've written, I jumped at the chance.  That was my original motivation.  Short of letter-writing and school compositions, I'd never in my life written anything for the consumption of the general public...or for any eyes other than my own, for that matter. Unfortunately, a few weeks down the road, I found myself getting all caught up in the "this journal has been read xxxx times"  thing, and in counting how many comments I got on my entries.  I had to physically drag myself away from that obsession.  But I keep falling back into the trap, and all that stuff spoils the experience for me.  When my competitve nature beats my creative side into submission, my whole outlook becomes skewed.  Right now, I'm having a hard time finding the right balance between my two selves--the creative me and the competitive me--here in AOL journal-land. 

Shortly after I started this journal, I wrote an entry expressing my opinion about making journals into a competition.  At that time, the competition was just background noise that I tuned out.  But the competitive aspect has become so pervasive now, it's hard to be here without being overwhelmed by it.  It's MY problem, I know.  It has to do with the war that the two sides of my personality have always waged against each other, and which one of them I ultimately will allow to win.  And I'm not sure if this is the venue I should choose to hold that battle.



  1. You have a very valid point.  I started my journal to help with my syntax and grammar, so far no help with that, but I have received several other very good perspectives regarding things I have written about.  It is easy to get caught up in the whole “audience” atmosphere; however, I believe it can be suppressed if actively combated.  I had several nasty comments about my mother and me, and some by supposedly “respected community members” and I almost decided to never discuss my mother or daughter again.  But the hell with it.  I write when I am ready to move away from something, and having a witness even if it is a stranger seals that deal for me.  So if a motherly pain occurs again and I am ready to release it, it will be in print over at my place.  Actually I know this will sound condescending and perhaps it is, but I feel sorry for the people who want to express themselves but choose to not to because of what others will think of them. I understand that not everyone needs to reveal their inner most self to reap benefit, however, for the ones who would like to and are not, are just disserving themselves.  People will judge regardless, so right not benefit in the process.

  2. Lisa, you're so right. I read my hit counter. I look for my comment added alerts first.  I was excited to get nominated, and then a little blue that I was in last place.  When I realized I was wondering what I should write about so people would be interested, I got the reality check that I needed.  I write to express what's going on in my head.  I don't have the pressure of a newspaper to respond to its readership interests.  Trying to "build" a readership would be an ego thing, and for me, it would destroy my writing.  It's when I'm at my most personal, with the subjects that most engage me, and to heck with what anybody else wants, that I think I write my best.  The awards are a tricky thing.  It's a bit like judging people's lives.  I just enjoy your journal so much, and I want you to know that you're not the only one suffering from overkill.

  3. I have kind of mixed feelings on the awards.  I was SO flattered to be nominated but I didn't like being set up in competition against people I truely admire and respect.  I'm not a competitve person at heart.  I don't expect to win...and I've had a twinge of disappointment with that. I pour my heart and soul into my pictures.  But I've just decided that the true substance of this community is the real prize.  I've gotten so much out of just BEING here.  The awards were put in place with good intentions and that's fine with me.  But I don't really think they enhance the atmosphere of the community.  We just need to take them lightly and move on.
    The anniverary celebration on the other hand..I want to celebrate the connections I have made here.  I have found some wonderful people that I never would have met.  I value their presence in my life. (that means YOU too!!)  That's worth celebrating.  And I'm always up for a party!

  4. Heehee...after our emails the other night I thought the same thing.."I Blog. Therefore I am?" I think as with any well-intentioned thing in life, you have to evaluate your motivation and keep a watchful eye that you don't become corrupted by recognition and what-not.

    I'm very much a pro-active type though. If there is something you see you want, or a group you want to be involved with, I believe it is no one's responsibility but your own to do something about it.

    However, the most rewarding journaling experience is if you don't worry about any of that stuff anyhow. I am participating with all that goes on as I can. Initially, I felt guilty because I wasn't gung-ho involved but there is only so much I can do in a day and that isn't going to change. So feeling guilty or left out of it is my choice, I can decide to accept my circumstances and dump my feelings. I'm doing the best I can.

    And to keep all things in perspective, it's always good to go to the Technorati main page and look at their web-wide list. Blogs out in the non-AOL world have thousands of links to them. So you can be a big fish in a little pond, a little fish in a big pond, or just choose to swim. I choose to swim and be happy about what occurs during the process. :-) ---Robbie

    P.S. How did your "thing" go yesterday? Didn't you have something with your business? That's what I've been anxiously waiting to hear about.

  5. Lisa, as always you voice something that has been eating at me also.  I really like so many of the journals nominated that I have voted from several of my screen names...yet, I was disappointed that I was left out....even my photo's, which if I do say so myself are pretty damn good.  And I don't like that about myself.  I feel like I'm looking in at the popular kids having a ball and not inviting me!  Oh well, there I have said it!  

  6. Hi Lisa,

    First off, I owe you a huge apology for not coming by lately.  I promise to be more on the alert with you since I do get your alerts.  Second off, a Happy Belated Birthday as well.

    Now, I feel the same way you do as far as this journalling community.  I had never kept a diary in my life before and all I ever wrote was just requirements for school just like yourself and then I got into e-mailing others.  That was just about it.  Then I started this journal just to record my day's activities and I used to "talk to myself" in my journal.  Then before you know it. I got caught up in the counter and comments business.  It is now an obsession with me.

    I feel the same way you do about the awards thing and you will see that I don't have a torch in my journal.  I also feel like a misfit among misfits.

    Let me ask you this though;  how come you didn't like being featured on Clinton's page when it brought you some fame and how come you don't want to be featured?  I mean being featured will jump up your counter and comments by leaps and bounds.  I want to be featured and I was perturbed when they didn't put me on finance talk when they said they would and I had sent them a picture.  I e-mailed them and they quickly responded and said they got more responses than they thought they would so I understood then.

    Well, I have rambled on, so I will go and come here and be up to date with you.


  7. greetings lisa

    i hesitate to comment on this topic -- as i have no journal of my own! but as an avid reader of many journals, i'm with you...this awards competition has gotten tiresome.

    i, myself, seem to have rather limited social skills, and also lead a fairly solitary life. i'm unsure if the lack of social skills lead to the solitary lifestyle, or the other way around...a chicken/egg thing, you know?

    following a journal allows me to know the author to some extent. but not having one myself keeps them from knowing me. not sure what to make of that either!

    anyhow, i enjoy reading your journal...your take on things interests me.

    and a belated happy birthday!


  8. Hmmmm.....

    I guess when I started my journal, it was just for me.  I knew that a few of my online friends would read it and hoped that that would make me accountable on the weight-loss project.  (Ha!)  

    I quickly became intrigued by the discipline of writing every day.  I've started and run out of steam on so many journals, essays, stories, all of my life, that I couldn't begin to count them.  But for some vague and unarticulated reason I thought that I might have more incentive to keep this one going, which has turned out to be true -- the incentive is:

    DA DA!!  An audience.  Yep, I admit it -- I look at my counter and I hope for comments.  I was completely nonplussed when I changed the title and url and my counter went back to zero -- I wanted to KNOW how many people had read my journal (even though I could remember the totals from one moment to the next).

    And I like the community, too.  I'm no big participant, but I've found some terrific stuff to read and some great photographers to try to emulate in my passage to digital-dom.  So I participated in the anniversary stuff I liked and ignored the rest -- same as in real life.

    I'm going to turn 51 next week and here's the thing that I've discovered about 50 -- I'm fine with who I am and what I want to participate in and what I don't and where I'm shameless about wanting recognition and where I couldn't care less.  

    I'm glad you opened this topic.  I guess I'm as self-absorbed and introspective as ever!  

  9. Oh, honestly.  I COULDN'T  ever remember the reader total.  I wish there were a way to edit one's own comments.

  10. Lisa, I'm sure you're not the only one who feels this way.  I think part of the problem is that the "anniversary" is taking so long.  It's been hyped for at least a month, and then they will have a month long celebration.  It is overkill, but perhaps the reason it is taking so long is that there is so much to do and the people who are behind making it happen have lives of their own also and so it is just taking longer.  Now about the awards...I think what's hard about that is that everyone wants to be recognized and if you're not it is natural to feel slighted in some way.  You have a fabulous journal.  You are a quiet gem and I don't think a lot of people even know about you.  I think what I like more about the Journal awards than the "editor's picks" is that we are judged by our peers.  Does it become a popularity contest?  Without a doubt.  Many worthy journals were not nominated as far as I'm concerned. There are so many ways that I think the journals have the potential to hurt people.  The favorite journals section for instance.  I have literally seen my name appear and then be removed from some people's journal list.  At first that bothered me immensely and that's why I decided NEVER to have a list on my journal (besides the fact that I read a ton of journals).  I think that entry you wrote about making journals a competition was the first entry I ever read of yours.  It drew me in and I have been coming back since then.  I hope that you don't feel bad about the awards.  To put things in perspective, I think of it this way...the award we'd be receiving is a GRAPHIC that we'd stick somewhere in our journal.  I think we can all live without that...

  11. I concur!  If I wrote as well as you do, I could've written this entry.  In fact, I have touched upon the subject here and there in a more guarded fashion.  All this hoopla reminds me of beauty pageants and such.  For all we know, the most beautiful woman in the country/world/universe is living deep in a cave somewhere unknown to the world.  Same thing with these journals!  Think of all the ones that aren't on "the list".  Your journal is very much award-worthy.  You know it, I know it and so do all your loyal readers.  

  12. Oh dear, I am not part of the popular kids group either. Never have been never will be. I just dabble a little with all the differant groups. So if someone wants this to be a competition good for them, if someone doesn't want it to be a competition that is good too. Some of us need competition some of us don't. I just don't get too hung up on it.

  13. I too have felt this way for quite awhile.  I have always obstained from the 'Weekend Journal Assignments'.  I thought our journals were supposed to be a personal take on any given subject in our life, not someone elses question for us to answer.  In short, its my journal and I'll write on subjects I prefer, not a response to someone elses que.  

    I think there were good intentions with the awards and the Anniversary doings, but I do believe they are creating a divide in the community.  However, I don't mind the top 5 list; why?  Because I believe the editors to be unbiased in their opinions-- they want us online a bunch so they pitch out the interesting stuff to keep us reading.  As to the awards, they will definitely spotlight the cliques and the ultimate outcome will be awards given that are not based on much merit at all.  With the exception of one of our favorites: Jukebox Woman-- she deservedly should win!!  Kristi

  14. I think it is fully  human to feel alone.  To feel on the outside as truly each of us is alone.  But here at least there are other geeks that can realte to your aloneness and respect you if you feel aloof.

    I like you Lisa!!!

  15. are not unpopular!! This has gotten fifteen replies. NOTHING I have ever written has gotten fifteen replies. I don't think fifteen people even read my journal. I do feel unpopular sometimes, sort of like a wallflower. But the reason I started my journal was for my kids...I wanted a way to document their lives and what was going on around us. I do not have as exciting of a life as many people...which might be a true blessing. Sort of like that Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times."  I did feel sad and left out when the awards were going on.  If I change what I write to try to make my journal more popular, I've caved in and defeated myself. Sometimes I worry about what I write will offend people, but I try to be respectful. Anyway, I enjoy your concise wit.