Friday, February 11, 2005

Changes in Journal Land

Is it just me, or is journal land changing? Perhaps the novelty has worn off. We are well into our second year of existence here. Leaders have sprung up, poured their hearts, souls, and what had to have been every moment of their spare time (and then some) into creating the structure and tone of the journal experience, then burned out and disappeared. The folks that were most hyperactive about our little corner of the cyber-world have either settled into a more energy-efficient membership in the community, abandoned the concept entirely, or gone on to bigger and better things.

Wasn’t it only a month ago that I myself wrote what I thought might be my "swan song" entry? I did need to take a step back, to examine the things that tied me to this place, and to disentangle myself from the unhealthy parts of the attachment. But that time of reflection helped me to understand that I really like it here. I came back not as a slave to some sick dependency, but because I chose to come back. I need to write. I like to write here, where I have people who have come to know me and appreciate my point of view. I have things I want to communicate, and because of my lack of…shall we say, more traditional social contacts, this is the forum where I can reach the largest number of people with the things I want to say. Not like writing a syndicated column, or a letter to the editor, or even a club newsletter. More like a conversation among a roomful of friends.

Yet, more than that… I can be one-on-one with some special people, even as I’m sharing my thoughts with a larger group; a dynamic that no other medium provides. Those of us who understand and appreciate this, and thrive in the environment, have remained, watching the parade of new journalers come, burn out or lose interest, and go.

Earlier this week, I was reminded, by the experience of another journaler who has chosen to depart, that the on-line world can be a world of fiction, intrigue, and outright lies. How do we know that the people we think we’ve come to know are actually what they’ve represented themselves to be? How do we know when we read that someone is struggling with a chronic disease, or has a parent dying of cancer, or has a child headed toward self-destruction, that these are real things happening to real people, and not just folks taking the opportunity to write fiction and see how it plays with the public?  Well, we don't.  We must exercise a certain amount of blind faith. We do risk being duped, looking foolish, when we become involved with people we’ve never seen and most probably will never meet face-to-face. But I--one of the most cynical and negative people I know--think it is a risk worth taking.


  1. I was a flash in the pan .. ha.

    Thanks for this entry .. I have been thinking of starting again .. don't know that I will or that I won't .. but I very much appreciated your thoughts ..

  2. Lisa-
    Your entry is one of the main reasons that held me back for so long to not start a journal. I was afraid of meeting all the "wackos" out there. But I have to say the last 6 months have been pleasant ones. I was so afraid of making friends and then having them "dupe" me or just out-and-out lie about the lives they lead. I am in agreement it's a chance worth taking and so far I have made some really great friends. Most especially YOU! So many other have stayed true to reading and commenting on my journal and it makes me feel better.

    There is also the dynamic of sharing personal happenings in ones own life. Like myself and my Mother's battle with cancer and her impending death. What moved me to share this on AOL and the Internet, I truly don't know. It's almost like I was guided in this direction to write about it. Sharing this personal journey on my journal about Mom and Dad has made a big difference on"my" perception of death and dying. I learn and feel something new everyday.

    I love your words Lisa and hope to see you on AOL for years and years to come!


  3. I think we've evolved somewhat here and I am okay with it.  For me, since I never had too big of an "audience" (so to speak) or that many who choose to comment, I've continued to write for me.  Like you, I feel because I am pouring my heart out here that I expect the same honesty from others.  I believe that those that I read on a regular basis, are honest and true, and if we were in a situation to meet, I'd find them to be the type of person I'd love to be friends with.  In my case, for the most part, I use this journal to document my life, and feelings because it's much easier than doing it by hand.  You have the gift of putting important things and issues out for thought...that I could never do.  So, that's why I enjoy reading you so much.  You keep it up!  We're here to read what you think and you know I am your true friend!  Hugs, Lisa

  4. I am certainly glad that I have taken the risks I have here in j-land.  To date, I have never felt duped however I have "lost" a couple of journalist that I had grown particularly fond of.  I get kind of annoyed when I read of an incident of drama that has put someone in an uncomfortable position.  I like to think of this as an open and honest, live and let live kind of place.  I think for most of us it is...with a heap of friendship and support thrown in.  There are crackpots and troublemakers in all walks of would be unrealistic not to expect to find one here occasionally.

  5. Saint Augustine, I believe, claimed we can tell more about a person by the lies he tells about himself ... than the supposed truths.

  6. It is odd how some people have just dropped off without comment. I think others have discovered how public the internet actually is and have changed less and less.  Then the drama in AOL-J land.  I realize something is going on after it has happened!  And I am so curious I wonder what has taken place. I will never know who the particulars of the given situation actually are.  All in all the Aol-J land expereince has been wonderful.  Meeting intelligent people with exceptional writing skills in this venue has been great.

  7. I agree is hard, I mean hard to know that for sure the things we read are real.  But, even if they are works of fiction in fiction there is some element of truth.  Otherwise no one would read.

    I am glad that you have held true here.

  8. ps:  I hope that I am not someone you are doubting...

  9. Well, the alerts appear to be on vacation-------again. Good entry. Personally, I'm just in a kind of dry period right now. And it is kind of hard to knit and type at the same time. Gee, maybe they'll improve the voice activated interfaces. I "can" talk and knit at the same time. At least as long as I stick to knit and pearl. LOL


  10. ----continued----

    I'm glad for the friends, such as you that I have made online. (And, yes, I would love to meet you too someday.) I could do without the drama and have tried my best to just stay out of it, although I've allowed my hot-head to pull me in from time to time. I find it is better for me to just be oblivious to it all. I do get behind though even with those I consider friends. I used to feel a tremendous amount of guilt but I realized that the guilt was detracting from the experience. I can't stay on top of every little thing with my family and "real-world" friends, why should I expect that here. Life gets in the way sometimes but it doesn't mean people aren't in my heart.

    A side note regarding Christine's comment: I believe what she writes. But, she has always shown consistency and because of that she has built trust with me. Like other things in life, trust takes time. I think when you come upon a new journal you have to take it with a grain of salt. You don't know what the writer's motivation is but over time they tend to reveal themselves quite clearly.

    Whew! Maybe I should have made this a journal entry. ;-) ---Robbie

  11. So much content here in so few lines. I think the journal experience is what you bring to it and make it for yourself. I know I'm constantly redefining it for myself. I'm one of those who have tried to be more efficient with my time here because I realized that my first year in J-Land, I went overboard, to the detriment and neglect of other areas of my life.

    One of the most memorable things from the weekend with the "Yak-yaks" was a statement made by Gigi when she first met me. She said she'd recognize me anywhere. I liked that because I felt I had done a good job of presenting the real me, at least physically. I don't think you can truly know anyone completely and if you think you know them completely by their writing you are even more deceived.
    Andi thought I would be reserved and quiet when she met me and she's been reading my journal since almost the beginning. Ha! She didn't even see half the craziness that is me because I was somewhat mild mannered that weekend not due to shyness but because of being a bit worn out.

    ----continued below----

  12. I've noticed a slowing done here lately and have felt like taking a break myself, but instead of doing that, I just have written less or not at all if I don't feel like it.  I really miss some of the journalers who have chosen to leave but have come to accept their moving on as a part of life.

    It has taken me some time, but I have learned to use caution here in journal land where what is written does not necessarily have to be true.  I understand that we are all presenting a side of ourselves to the world and that perhaps some of what is presented is not necessarily true.  I just don't know.  There are a lot of people with very strong opinions here pleading their cases and telling you their side of the story and I want to believe everyone which makes it even more difficult to navigate at times.  I differentiate between my real life and my journal friends and I do not invest my heart where I am unsure.

  13. I also wanted to say that what has happened to me was that I thought I really knew others from reading their journal, and found out that I did not  in some cases.  Much like people might think they know all about me but they do not.  I think I present only one side of myself--the side I need to express at the moment.  I know that if you met me in person, I would be nothing like I present myself in my journal.  I rarely complain.  I have fun all the time with the people in my life.  I cannot fault someone for making those sorts of judgements about me if what I am presenting is negative.  Likewise, I cannot pass judgement on others.  

  14. Damn alerts!  LOL.  Glad I stopped by and found this wonderful little entry, Lisa.  J-land has changed a lot.  Remember when our entries could only be 2500 characters long and comments were limited to 500?  Boy, that was rough.  As much as I loved journaling then, I found it very hard to comment in a meaningful way on other journals, and even more difficult to express myself.  People will come and go.  I think  it boils down to motives.  For a lot of us we just really love to write.  The fact that a few people bother stopping by and reading what we write is an added bonus.  And then to hear their feedback is really great.  For others of us we not only love to write but we have specific ideas and views we wish to share.  This is certainly where my journal comes into play.  

    All in all, it's been a real blast.  I've met some wonderful people here; I've also met some not-so-wonderful people also.  But that's life.  

    Thanks for the great entry.


  15. I think I just lost my comment, aol is wacky lately, not posting comments....oh what did I say, let's try this again shall we?!!....

    insightful entry....I do feel a change in the air... things seem more subdued here lately...but that can be okay...I don't get the sense of main leaders anymore either....but that can be okay too....we're all on even footing....and as for things not being what they seem....yes, I do think we tend to forget that happens until finding out it happened to someone again....but hopefully for the most part, it's a great community around here!


  16. thoughtful and interesting stuff here - in your entry and in the comments.  i have actually become more and more attached and committed to the phenom of J-land in the time that i have been here.  i never was a leader, have never participated in any of the dramas - and i feel that the people i have come to know are really who they say they are.  i have a pretty decent bullshit detector, and when it starts to oscillate i move on and away.  on the whole, i find that there is an extraordinary community of caring, intelligent, thoughtful people here.  as i have no real friendship community where i live now, this has become increasingly a place where i can find a friendly voice, or ear.  because i have three journals, i have some different friends in them, and that makes it even more interesting.  thank you, by the way, for your presence, your comments, for just being who you are.  -mary ellen

  17. Well, you know Lisa, I don't worry so much about the liars!  I know they are out there, believe me.  But I guess that I like to think I've become skilled at recognizing some of the signs.  I was only fooled once, and even then I wasn't *really fooled.  I sort of suspected all along that I was being duped, but I just went along with it anyway.  Silly.

    Yes, those are interesting things you say about people burning out!  I wondered that myself when all this first became popular.  I never expected that I'd be one of the ones to go, lol.  But I saw these other people who were posting entries like every single day and reading about a million journals.  I wondered how in the world they could do that?  How can you write about your life if you have no time left to have one?  And forget this "reading fast' business.  I read quite fast, but I could not keep up.

    And that's not even counting all the fancy graphics, birthday journals, etc. etc.  Just too much for me.  All I ever wanted to do was write, and somehow that didn't seem good enough.  (Not saying that this expectation of its not being good enough was put on me by anyone other than myself.)

    But I'm glad you're here, too!  I love reading your thoughts, and I can see how you've grown through the experience.