Staccato signals of constant information

When my family moved to Alabama, my parents gave me a Lisa Frank diary. For a few months, I locked the details of my playground exploits, crushes and friends behind the unicorns playing on the rainbow covers. One day, I left it unlocked and open in the living room. At that point, I hadn’t acclimated. After eight years of life in Virginia, my new yellow (more Naples yellow than cream, ick) bedroom still seemed foreign.

Because what I had written was unhappy but tame—I had only just heard my first curse word—they sat me down to talk about it. I was mortified. As an only child, I wasn’t used to having my stuff moved or touched. I knew how to share, but that was my diary. That was MINE.

Now I don’t keep thoughts for anything other than writing projects on paper. There are a few drafts of angry letters to exes shuffled away somewhere and some notes from the trip I took to Europe, but those are camouflaged in my cluttered apartment.

As a paranoid member of Gen Y, it kind of makes sense. One look at my Facebook timeline and you're privy to an electronic record of the past seven years of my life. Until LiveJournal went through a purge earlier this year, you could’ve found my adolescent pre-Facebook drama there. Thank goodness that’s not readily available.

Thing is, social media has become the new way to journal and document life. This switch has some serious consequences—the electronic record is almost never entirely erased. It is easily shareable through social media and never entirely dies. On the other hand, paper can be scanned or copied, but it can also be totally destroyed. It doesn’t hurt that burning old documents can purge both your filing cabinet and your mind.

If Facebook had been around when I was younger, I probably would have been diagnosed with ADD and medicated accordingly. Multitasking at the same rate that I do now would have rendered me almost entirely unable to keep attention on one task at a time. Since I started Tweeting, Facebooking and text messaging later in life, I am still able to turn my phone on silent, make a friend change my social media passwords and get down to writing/working physics/being fully present. Once the assignment/hang out is over, though, I go right back to being constantly connected.

That’s the beauty and danger of social media. It’s possible to plug more into your community and to connect deeply with others who share your passion. It’s also easy to get sucked into documenting every detail of your life for everyone in your network to see.

Striking a balance between these two is the key—if you can’t, I’m going to hide your profile. That’s the purpose behind journaling, not social media, and is best left off the web. I heard that the book store you mentioned quite a few times on Tumblr is having a sale on Moleskines

Title taken from Paul Simon's "The Boy In The Bubble"