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Death of the Blog?

October 2nd, 2013 No comments

This won’t be my last blog entry ever, but it will probably be the last for a very long time. It’s not that I’m no longer documenting my experiences—I’ve written fourteen journal entries since my return from Germany, but I haven’t been inclined to post any of them online. The only one I did post, the Sports Day entry, was the second of two entries I wrote about Sports Day, one written specifically for the online journal with emotional content kept to a bare minimum. Over the last year or so I’ve grown more and more wary of sharing my personal thoughts and feelings with the world, and I’ve been keeping most entries private, occasionally posting public versions edited for content. In doing so I’ve constantly had to keep this process in mind as I write, making sure all personal thoughts I might want to edit out for the public version are carefully quarantined and easy to remove during editing. Lately I’ve lost the motivation to even do this, figuring that if any part of an entry is too personal for me to want to publish I just won’t publish that entry. I’ve just gone back to writing whatever I feel like writing without worrying about which parts are publicly acceptable and which parts I should keep to myself—the way a real journal is supposed to work.

As such, there are a few significant experiences that have gone undocumented in the public journal whereas in private I’ve documented them thoroughly. For instance, I wrote quite a few entries with regard to this year’s Speech Contest which took place a couple of weeks ago. I want to remember my experiences helping those students prepare and how I felt throughout the process right up until the day of the contest, but it felt like that sort of thing is between me and my students and there’s no reason the rest of the world needs to know about it. Editing out their names is beside the point—it’s not so much about confidentiality as it is about basic personal privacy. I don’t want to have to think about what other people reading this journal might think about my thoughts.

When I decided to start journaling online it was out of an idealistic notion of radical openness, the idea that if everyone were to just be as open and honest about who they are with the world, the world might become a more tolerant and understanding place. That may be true and the world might be gradually moving towards that point, but in the mean-time anyone who does so is going to have to deal with a lot of unpleasant consequences. When people close to me discovered and read the journal I had to start editing myself, and over the years I edited myself more and more to the point where the entire original point of doing this online was completely lost. What started as an experiment in fierce unapologetic public honesty has essentially become nothing more than “letters home from Japan.”

For awhile I also experimented with political blogging, and for almost two years the political entries greatly outnumbered the personal. I gave it a shot and for awhile I thought I might have some potential in that area, but I gradually lost all motivation to continue that as well. Political blogging, I came to discover, is one of the least rewarding ways imaginable to spend one’s time. I put a lot of thought and effort into my political entries, and I’d post them here to no reaction and on another website where the reaction was often positive but usually nothing worthwhile. After all those hours spent researching and writing, posting and discussing, I can’t honestly believe I ever changed a single person’s opinion on anything. There will be no more political entries here either.

I struggle to think of any good reason I should continue to do this at all. The only kinds of entries I can still imagine being worthwhile are those having to do with travel. My 10-part series on my trip to Rome complete with maps and pictures remains one of my favorite things I’ve ever posted online. I’m happy with all my travel entries and feel like those experiences are exactly the kind of thing best suited for an online journal. Starting life in a new country is also an experience worth sharing publicly, with all the cultural observations it seems people are interested in. But just basic stuff about life events are either too personal to share or too dull for anyone to care.

I had a couple of notable firsts yesterday as I left school after lunch and went into Chiba to renew my work visa. Rather than deal with the hassle of the train situation, I figured I’d take advantage of having a car and shave about 2 hours off the journey by driving in. It was the first time I’ve driven on the highway in Japan and the first time I drove in a city. But there was nothing remarkable about it. It was strange that the right-lane is the passing lane but that’s about it. As for driving in Chiba-city—after driving through Brooklyn that didn’t phase me at all. The visa-renewal process was just boredom on top of boredom, as I hadn’t actually expected to go to immigration on the same day so I hadn’t brought a book. I got ticket number 107 when I arrived at 3:30, and the counter was up to 67. Three hours later I was one of only two people left in the room, and my number got called dead last at 6:10. (Of course, the three hours I had to wait this year was nothing compared to the three months I had to wait last year.)  Because I got out so late, the drive home was also the first extended night-time driving I’ve done in Japan, but there was nothing remarkable about that either.

Almost everything that happens to me which I do consider interesting or important is of a personal nature that I no longer have any inclination to post on a public blog. As such, entries have been generally shorter and less frequent. That’s how it’s been for awhile, and now I’m just making it official and explaining the reason. I still find tremendous value in documenting my life experiences, but most of that value is lost when I edit my most honest thoughts and feelings.

But if you’re one of the people who checks the blog regularly to find out what I’ve been up to, the upside is that the next time we catch up I can tell you about stuff you didn’t already know.

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