So I switched to using Live Journal instead of my paper journal for one reason really: I've tended to keep my paper journal only sporadically. I tend to write a bunch and when I do, I can't write fast enough to keep up with my head. I have a hard time finding time to do a paper journal (online I just use up cycles while i wait for other computer tasks to finish). I have a hard time remembering to bring my notebook with me wherever I go and I lose track of it. So I end up starting a new one frequently. These issues contribute to making it difficult for me to keep up a paper journal. I do entries for a few weeks to a month at a time, then nothing for a few months.
I don't have that problem with LiveJournal. But I do have other issues, all of which are related to the public nature of this medium.
First, I have to be careful about what I say to some extent here. Not so much with what goes on in my head. I am not worried about writing something offensive or what not. Or being opinionated about things. I can take the drama if it were actually to come from that. What I have to worry about are my thoughts about particular people hurting them in some way. I used my paper journal to work out issues of what harm I have caused people and how to make amends. I don't like apologizing to people. I'd rather go to them with true regrets and changed behavior. And I can't do that off the cuff. I have to get my ideas down on paper first. In cases where I simply have a low opinion of someone or group or situation, they should not find out about my views through 3rd parties who read it here first. They should hear it from me directly. So far, with possibly one exception, I think I have managed to keep those types of entries to a select group of people who won't break my confidence.
Second, is that the interactive nature of Live Journal. I don't forbid comments on my entries. These are kind of helpful sometimes to keep me honest. This is why I enable it on the "deeper" issues and why I don't make the items from issue #1 completely private. But as I am not necessarily a great writer (I think competent, but not great) there is sometimes confusion as to what my entries are about sometimes. So I get advice when I am not looking for it. Or I get advice for other issues I raised but didn't really think I needed advice on. Or offers of help when I wasn't really looking for help. Or validation when I wasn't wanting validation. I get irritated. I think "can they not see I wasn't looking for that?" and (mildly) "how dare they?" These thoughts are fleeting though. I know that if I open it up for comments, I am going to get good comments as well as bad. I have to have a thick skin. And that many times areas of my life that I don't think need criticism, in fact do need it. So I settle down and resist the urge to tell people to back off. And I haven't yet turned off comments or even restricted entries from anonymous comment. I don't even turn on the "log IP addresses" option. I should be able to take comments of any type well from anyone. Even if misguided, the comments teach me tolerance.
Lastly, and I think most importantly is the question, have I altered what I write too much to play up to the audience? Obviously, I have written certain entries specifically because people will read them. Am I subtly trying to be someone I'm not through this medium? I am much more expressive in writing than I am in person. The anonymity of the net and its less immediate nature (compared to face to face contact) affords me the ability to be less shy, to equivocate less than I would in person. I am less shy. Am I losing some of the benefits of the private nature of my paper journal because of the fact that I know people will read it? For instance, I haven't written down any story ideas or personal poetry that frequently litter my paper journal. Of course, I go through periods of time where I have none there either because I have no inspiration. I haven't felt any inspiration in that regard in the three months since I started this, so maybe it's a non-issue. Maybe when I think of something I will write it.
So the benefit is I keep my journal regular now. Does this outweigh the extra work and the possibility of discovery that comes form item #1 and the possible change in nature from item #3? I dunno for sure. I am tending to think so at the moment.