“what I would like to get out of LJ”

The question was posed and I have tried to think about an answer. However the more I think the less I’m sure about. I am a selfish person and my starting on LJ was all about having my say to an audience that would then expand into some sort of meaningful dialog. LJ is an artificially created virtual community that, even with the ability to spill over into real-life, remains a series of mazes and mirrors where you are never sure of who/what you see or where you are going.(I’ve paper journaled for years and one day the thought crossed my mind that when I die they might end up unread in the trash bin. I’m too conceited to want that to happen. Somebody needs to read that stuff and perform a postmortem psycho-analysis to see if I really was off my rocker.)

I want something I haven’t found elsewhere. One of my shortcomings is the apparent lack of ability to cultivate and maintain long term personal friendships.(Everybody, and I do mean EVERYBODY, who I have considered a friend at some point moves on with their life and we just lose contact. Managing to track some of them down over the years has yielded the same response – keeping up with former acquaintances is not a priority for them. In comparison it must be an obsession for me.) A lot of my brain cycles has been spent trying to figure out why.

Somehow the idea of virtual relationships (let’s keep our minds out of the gutter please) appealed to me. If others like myself were seeking the same goals and were online then we already had two traits in common and that seemed like a good start. The reality is that all (OK maybe just most) of us have another trait in common and that is having something to say. The problem is that not one of us is guaranteed of having any interest in what another is posting. Another way of putting it is everybody talking, no one listening. I tried for the first year to make my journal less about me and more about what I was thinking(if that is possible) but was never able to reach or receive comments from more than a very narrow segment of LJ users. Most of the more reliable readers/commenters actually found me using the random search feature.

I’ve made various parts of my life available via the web, including a half dozen or more pages of biographical info(still out there), around 100 poems I’d written(I removed them the same time I took my sabbatical from LJ), joined user communities, created other blogs (one of which I still keep current) and even tried various Internet chat rooms(total waste of time in my opinion). All of which has generated an insignificant amount of worthwhile feedback or comment. And yet I stick with LJ.

I interpret many of the journals I’ve read as attempts by the writer to cultivate and maintain a fan club or in the case of people with some sort of “problem”(real or imagined) a support group. I seek none of that. Any idea I come up with is subject to reader dismissal and any problem I might mention is an open target for ridicule.

But back to what I want. Give and take. Questions, answers, rebuttals. Point and counter-point. I dunno, let’s talk about it. OK?


About Marcus

Who me? Introverted, neurotic, self-absorbed, increasingly cynical observer of human nature and part time social critic in hiding. Most of my life spent avoiding growing up. The naive idealistic passions of youth have evolved into the eclectic eccentricities of adulthood. Northeast Florida small-town native, related to people I can't relate to. Simultaneously my own best friend and worst enemy. Politically and spiritually unaffiliated, my personal ideologies put me all over the map or off it completely.
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6 Responses to “what I would like to get out of LJ”

  1. mary919 says:

    i don’t really know…
    i like to chronicle what’s going on in my life and i use that to practice writing. i hope people respond to my voice and to my style– i don’t think i have anything profound to say or any compelling interests.
    most of the people i hold onto online lead ordinary lives that are not really interesting to read about. the ones whose lives are full of drama scare me. so there’s never real controversy or exchange of bigger ideas.
    i guess it comes down to banter really– and i can certainly understand why that wouldn’t be for everyone.
    when i look back on my life, most of my lasting friendships were born of shared experiences rather than shared interests. so there are people i care about just because they’ve made a little commitment to this… sort of an experiment/experience.

    • marcsuttle says:

      Re: i don’t really know…
      Something about LJ appealed to the same part of me that prefers the editorial/commentary section of a newspaper. (well, maybe after the comics)
      I was told early in life you can’t choose who you are going to fall inlove with. I’ve learned the same applies to friends. The ones I felt closest to are the ones I had the least in common with but we managed to have a great time while it lasted.

  2. dearest_b says:

    I’ve thought about this question too.This doesn’t mean that i can explain what i mean in any articulate way.
    I came to LJ with no real thought in my head as to what i wanted from it, or what i would contribute.I’d not written anything since school. Had no clue as to what i would write about. What my ‘voice’ was, or even, if i wanted a voice.
    Being extremely suspicious of psychobabble and expressions such as ‘having a voice’. My approach to LJ was rather tentative to say the least. It took months of persuasion.
    Then finally,I fell into it.
    I’ve been through the phases of style that you talk about. Both airing problems and yes, at one point, it did seem that i was maintaining a fan club. Giving them what they wanted became far too much. I still couldn’t tell you if that was real or imagined, but i did feel pressure to perform.You see, i thought i knew what they wanted, but as no one had ever fully explained just what that was…i’m not convinced i was right.
    That was when i took a break.
    Starting over has brought things slightly clearer.
    It seems to me that people are looking for engagement. They too want friends to invest their interest in and to have that returned in kind.
    As you said, Give and Take.
    Personally, i find it hard to keep all that much hidden. In real life i am as open and frank as i am via this. Not absolutely sure if that is a bad thing.What i do know is, this new journal has been a definite effort to become less playing to the gallery and more cathartic.
    I’m still struggling with that.
    You have to give something to latch onto. Some kind of common ground isn’t enough really. There should be some emotion involved.
    Shouldn’t there?
    After all, there are millions in the World who share my tastes in music, films and books, but i wouldn’t necessarily want to share my life with them.
    Isn’t this what we’re doing? Isn’t the essence of sharing our journals, asking others to buy into our lives in some way?
    Investment. No?
    By the way, i am incredibly happy that finally, after all this time, there may actually be some sort of debate breaking out all over.

    • marcsuttle says:

      I agree with you that LJ is a way for others to invest in our lives, but I’m beginning to believe unless there is some real-world follow thru, it will remain unsatisfactory for many. (have we allowed ourselves to only swim on the shallow end of the pond?)
      Some long forgotten sage commented that thoughts and ideas need to be tested in reality.(or something like that)
      Too much thinking about this and I end up lost in the deep end.

      • dearest_b says:

        Pond dipping, for some, can be a great way to paddle if there’s no chance of getting anywhere near the sea.
        We could of course, organise some sort of LJ friends convention, just don’t ask me to bring the sandwiches.
        Oh yeah! In case i forget to mention it, I’d also need a lift home afterwards.

  3. patsyterrell says:

    I started a LJ so my family that lives hundreds of miles away could keep up on my life. I never really expected others to read what I wrote to any large degree. I remain flattered that anyone does.
    I believe real friendships must exist in the real world. I have spent much time and energy in my life developing and maintaining friendships. Although, without real world interaction, they do fade.
    I have written about what I call “psuedo relationships,” which I think many people fill their lives with – those at church, work, online, etc. that would not exist without that shared commonality – instead of real relationships.
    The example I use is that my friends Greg and Mark were on either side of me at my Mother’s funeral, having traveled hundreds of miles to be there. Greg was with me the whole week as she was dying. That is what a friend is. A friend is not words on a screen that do not have a human connection to back them up.
    I’ve been journaling for many years on paper – and still do as that writing is very different. The online journal is a chronicle for me. But it is written for publication. I certainly do not share my most intimate thoughts on the journal.

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