Friday, October 29, 2010

Dear Diary...

Uncle Howie asked me to help him look for Christmas gifts for my sisters’ daughters, both ‘tweens. He thought that the perfect gift for them would be diaries. Not a journal, not a writing pad, but an old fashioned, lock-with-a-key-so-no-one-else-can-read-it diary. Surely, this would not be too hard to find?

I went to a department store and searched through the stationary department. Sure enough, there were spiral bound notebooks with blank pages and leather bound journals, but no lock-with-a-key diary. I asked one of the employees if they carried diaries. “Oh no,” she said, “Not for a long time. These days, all the kids use Facebook.”

Why does this concern me?
Diaries were an avenue to express one’s deepest thoughts and longings, as well as to record the most mundane events of the day (I remember that in my 7th grade diary I faithfully recorded—well, when I was disciplined enough to write—what the weather was like as I waited for the school bus). One could be uncensored as one articulated, with all the angst of adolescence, the changes one was experiencing as one began to carve out one’s unique place in the world. It was a place to safely test out one’s reality (and fantasy!).

Facebook, while it does provide “privacy settings”, isn’t quite the same thing as a locked diary. One rage-filled status update, one wondering note, and one’s innermost thoughts can go viral in the internet. What happens to one’s inner life when there is no safe place for expression? How can one express one’s thoughts and experiences that are meant for no one’s eyes but one’s own? Do we stunt the ability to be self-reflective if we bypass a quiet private place to think aloud and instead directly post our musings on the web?
Even as I write this, I question if that is exactly what I am doing with a blog. However, my hope is that I have had many years and opportunities to develop the skills of self-reflection and self-censorship so that what appears here is not emoted reflexively but after spending time musing. Even once it is posted, I hope that what is generated isn’t the fodder of gossip, but rather a healthy give and take of ideas and opinions.
So I am going to keep looking for those lock-with-a-key diaries for my nieces. The confidante of a private diary could be just the right thing as they are growing up in the digital age.

If you happen to know where I can buy one of those diaries, be sure to let me know!

1 comment:

  1. -- google "diary with lock and key" and behold...