I was puttering about just now, getting the bikes ready for my almost-nightly ride with my daughter, when I suddenly found myself thinking about Live Journal and, more specifically, what led me first to taper off my output and then stop altogether. I have written before about my sense of alienation with regard to a platform that once played a huge role in my life, reaching conclusions that I still agree with. But this time the act of reflection felt different, more whole somehow, than it had previously.
It wasn't simply that I got burned my decision, back in late 2010, to create a filter in order to share a very difficult time I was going through. Nor was it that I had come to find it harder and harder to sustain my vision of family life in the face of frequently blatant contradiction. The technological explanation, that I had drifted from Live Journal once my life became so hectic that I started doing almost everything on my mobile phone, though undoubtedly significant, also fell short of the mark. The underlying problem, I finally realized tonight, was that I no longer felt capable of producing the sort of convolutions that I had established as my dominant mode here.
I had always told myself that I enjoyed being playfully indirect here, hiding the often painful truth of my day-to-day existence in plain sight. And I suppose I did take pleasure in the mechanics of subterfuge. But in reality this way of communicating was just a distraction from facts I was unwilling to face or, to be more precise, unwilling to be seen facing. Put bluntly, my journal had achieved a degree of deceit that I was no longer in the proper frame of mind to maintain.
So where does that leave things? Facebook, for all of its faults, continues to hold me in thrall because the brevity of what I post there makes it much easier to avoid confronting the deeper structural flaws in my world. I don't have to worry about being indirect because the very form of that social media platform guarantees that almost no one can piece together a clear picture of anyone else's existence. Live Journal, by contrast, demands -- or at least demands from me, because of how I have used it since 2003 -- that I either resume my former practice of crafting posts so lacking in clarity that even I have difficulty excavating their layers later on or find some new way of approaching what I do here. And there's also the fact that almost no one seems to spend much time on Live Journal anymore.
But maybe that's what I was waiting for, a "safe space" more like my journal was when I first began it, when I only had a few unconnected readers, rather than the far-too-public production that everyone at work seemed to be reading and, I suspect, commenting on behind my back. Part of me would welcome the opportunity to work in solitude, like a postmodern-day Thoreau. After all, if I want a large audience, I still have Facebook at my disposal. Here, by contrast, I can almost be certain, despite the fact that I have vowed never to post anything to a filter or even friends-only again, that very few people will read what I share and that the vast majority of that potential micro-public consists of people I am comfortable sharing almost anything with.