Writing Beyond 140 Characters And Status Updates

A few weeks ago after BNAT14, one of my fellow BNATers decided that he was going to drop off of Facebook for a while, and out of curiosity, I decided to join him. He looks to have disabled his account entirely, which I can respect. I have recently done that for my “professional” Facebook account for a variety of reasons (one being to keep myself from posting negative things on it during my current workplace’s ‘restructuring’), but I couldn’t bring myself to do it for my personal Facebook account. Instead I have set out simply not to post status updates, not to log in on a regular basis and when logged in not to obsess over the reply notifications. However, I know that many of my friends and family use Facebook to post timely or important things (e.g. my sister-in-law posted “I am ready to try Dr. Who. Where should I start?” – of course, there’s no way NOT to reply to that), so I have a set of “Close Friends” and have Facebook email me whenever they post something. I get those throughout the day, and it feels a little more personal in a weird way. But I also delete all of those Facebook emails at the end of the day. 🙂 It keeps me update but it keeps me from being tied into Facebook.

That said, I’ve taken to Twitter in a more immediate way that before. The character limit and the speed of posting from people makes it more of the moment than the hierarchal, monolithic structure of Facebook. Of course, Twitter is basically a time-delayed chat medium more than anything else, and it’s setup prevents a type of conversation that Facebook is all too happy to feed upon: controversy. So, for now, I am using Twitter and using it mostly just to keep up with my BNAT related friends.

Between these two worlds, though, has been something lacking: the ability to type our long strings of thoughts. And I know myself. Long strings of thoughts are what I have in my head, and I know for a fact that writing or typing them out has been an important activity for me in the past. I’ve started and stopped any number of blogs over the years, and even now when I am typing these very words I ask myself how this is going to be any different. It certainly is different in some regards in that it isn’t currently something I have told anyone about, so it’s an audience of me. I am my audience for my own thoughts typed out to read and think about. Of course, I could just use a journal app for this, and I thought about that. I thought about using Tiddlywiki, which has a great journal feature. And I thought about a devoted journal app, of which there are more than a few. But that is all very closed up to the point that I would never think to start writing well enough “just in case someone reads it”. That’s something you do just a tiny bit if you start blogging. You have a “potential” audience that’s out there and you have a sliver of an idea that you might need to write clear enough for another person to understand what you are saying. The other issues with looking for a dedicated app for journaling is that “perfect apostrophe” issue Merlin Mann talked about. I already am doing this with themes for WordPress, and frankly, I want to avoid opening up that thought process any further.

That’s the point of the writing at all, in fact. To confront myself on some personal failure. To have it available to me in words instead of just thoughts weighing me down. That’s why it has to be beyond 140 Characters. Beyond status updates. Possibly public. It has to be a little risky or otherwise there’s no point in it.

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