Why you shouldn't keep a diary

by phil on Wednesday May 12, 2010 11:41 PM

Certain mediums have an inherent ideological bias or slant. For example, TV news is liberal and talk radio is conservative. These biases will be there 50, 100 years from now, no matter how many Rachel Maddows are hired or FOX News Channels are created.

But what about the medium of introspection? What is the bias inherent in your personal diary? I tried keeping a diary for a year, and everything I wrote was negative. Perhaps it follows the same principle of news: "If it bleeds it leads." The only things worth mentioning to myself in my diary was adversity. Otherwise, starting an entry with something like, "Today was amazing, the sun was shining, everything went smoothly," is positively boring.

Dwelling was something I needed less of in my life, and so I ditched the diary.


Ian said on May 13, 2010 9:50 AM:

Hey Phil

I'm normally on the same page as you. But I don't agree with anything here. I don't see the biases of TV/Talk Radio as inherent, just incidental. And likewise, I don't think a personal diary has to be negative. I have taken a different approach to the diary for the past couple years now. The goal is to write down not a grand summary of the day, but to capture at a minimum, just one single, specific detail. Sometimes this is even challenging. But it can be anything. 'Ripped a styrofoam cup in half so it would fit into the espresso maker.' The idea is to make a permanent connection. When I read back over this list, I feel a connection to my personal timeline on the whole.


Philip Dhingra said on May 13, 2010 11:01 AM:

That's a great idea about poignant minutiae. Almost reminds me of the strategy used to keep dream logs. You will definitely remember that signal memory years later, and it will maybe even be like a smell memory. I wonder how I could turn that idea into a public display of some sort, though. Like how I put colors associated with each post. After a while, I can just quickly glance at my timeline and know what I was up to at those moments.

Maybe a never-ending haiku, where every day you alternate between writing 5 or 7 syllables. Would make for an interesting stream/scroll.

casualhero said on May 20, 2010 2:49 AM:

Philosophistry and self-programming certainly seem journal-like to me. It would seem to be a problem of redundancy, too, eh? Who needs a journal once you've got blogs?

Philip Dhingra said on May 20, 2010 10:36 AM:

On some level, yes. But, my dream journals are not something I'd blog. They're usually too trippy to make sense to anyone other than me.

neva said on October 11, 2010 4:10 AM:

Hi) I know what you mean about negativity in the diary. When I was at school, my diary was all about the boys that neglected me and how unhappy I felt. Not that I was ugly or what... just I felt not interesting and all the pages was covered with notes of unhappiness. Then I stopped and after a couple of years reread the diary. I was shocked - it was so negative! and I decided to start a new one. I wrote there about one moment a day. The one that amazed me, or interested, or gave me pleasure, the one I was grateful for. Everything really felt better that way. I think it was a good change to make a change in your slant.

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