Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Selective Memory: As Easy as Selective Blogging

My Dad sent me this article that appeared in an October issue of The Atlantic Monthly that explores the statement, "Why I Blog." Now I know why Andrew Sullivan blogs, but why the fuck do the rest of us?

I do not think the worst part of blogging is anonymous commenters. I do not think the worst part of blogging is being linked to in an unfavorable way. If these were things that effected me in a deliberate and longlasting way, I would simply stop blogging and start writing in a diary.

I think that blogging and keeping a diary suck for the same reason: the worst part is that the pain that you put into them permanently exists, and that you can go back and read that pain whenever you choose. I generally choose to do so after a few glasses of wine or after I've spent hours alone studying or after I had a rough night with friends. I generally choose to do so when I want to feel worse, and I always always end up feeling worse.

I've had this overpowering drive to document every single detail of my life since I was a child. I have diaries dating back to 1995, when I was 7 years old. My first Livejournal was born in 2001 when I was 13. It is mostly about my first time kissing boys, my first time smoking pot, my first time drinking whiskey and my first time lying to my parents. My second Livejournal was started in 2004 when I was 16 and it is about losing my virginity and applying for college and wanting desperately to move to New York City and hating my parents for getting a divorce. It extends to the end of sophomore year of college. It talks about having to quit all the drugs I was doing and falling in love and falling out of love. I stopped writing in it when I started blogging for real. Even though it was private I got paranoid that people who had access to it would dick me over. That's what this world does to you.

Why do we feel like every time we’re unhappy -- or yes, happy -- that we need to document it? Is it so that when we are older we can look back on our lives with fondness and nostalgia, or is it something more than that? Part of me is so happy that every part of my life is neatly packaged and labeled for me to return to when I'm feeling nostalgic, but part of me wishes I could just let everything go and move on. The fact that it's so documented only allows me to slip more easily back into remembering things I should probably just forget.

A blog, then, is like all the shit you shouldn't think about filed, categorized and stored in one specific, easily accessible place. Search terms make nostalgia easier and more painful. Titles make reminiscing immediate. Sometimes I wish I could just destroy everything I own that reminds me of past lives, because it is embarrassing ("Did I really think I was in love with him?") and it is fake ("Did I really overexaggerate that much?) and it is absurd, ("Was I/am I really that overdramatic?")

I think that we are all terrified of forgetting things that seemed so important at the time, but maybe some of those things deserve to disappear. Luckily, forgetting can be just as easy as remembering: just press delete.

So the question is: In this digital age, with delicate, fractured attention spans and a deepening trust in 0's and 1's, is it even possible to remember something you did that you didn't blog - or at least write somewhere - about?


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