We all desire to be different. We want to stand out yet we want to be accepted. Hence with the surge of every short-lived internet phenomena (Jeremy Lin, Kony 2012, Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus and so on…), I’ve come to notice a pattern has emerged. The frantic sharing of something great and inspirational, then the criticism of how it falls short and then the rebuttal of it. All this is simply leading up to the confession that I am about to take part in this process.
I always hear about how much people hate writing and how they are terrible at it. Upon that, I usually think in gratitude about how fortunate I am to be someone who loves it and (hopefully) is not too bad at it too. Yet I once read an article (which I can no longer recall) about how social networking in actual fact has created a society in which people are writing more than ever in history. Due to the nature school papers, writing is usually associated with distaste because it reminds one of long painful nights struggling to churn out that final inch of writing. Yet what people do not consciously think of is that with every Facebook status update and Tweet… you are writing. You are journaling.
With scientific research and articles emerging about the negative effects of Facebook – people no longer know how to socialize in person, Facebook decreases happiness, people are wasting large amounts of time on social networking and so on – many people have to come to the dilemma of “Should I delete my Facebook account?” or even just fasting from it.
I recently read this blog post and came to realize that a healthy aspect of social networking has gone un-discussed. It is journaling too. Facebook has created a widely accessible means of journaling, the only (and extremely dangerous) difference is that it’s public. The pre-teen who posts a status update on how angry and upset she is about being betrayed by her friend (conveniently coined with a pronoun to maintain confidentiality), the young adult who posts sappy lyrics of a song, the adult who posts about an unexpected reunion with a high school friend … They are all simply writing about their own lives because it’s significant to them (and to others). They are simply journaling with the occasional (or not-so-occasional) sharing of pictures.
The problem with this form of public journaling is inappropriate levels of intimacy and the envy that is rouses and that is the unhealthy aspect of social networking. It is simply our management of it. As with anything in life, something that is good and wholesome has come to be evil and nasty due to our fallen and sinful nature. Otherwise, Facebook in actual fact is an extremely approachable means of journaling. You no longer have to be a “writer” to reap the benefits of journaling. It’s genius.
Almost anyone can write and paint their own story on Facebook (or other social networking sites), so that he or she has a journal to reflect on in order to grow and mature, or sometimes simply for the sake of sweet nostalgia.