I've been a member since 2002, so I guess I do have some longevity here, now. I joined at what was probably the height of Live Journal in the States, so at the time, it made me someone who was just jumping on the bandwagon. Now, it makes me an old geezer, who remembers how things were "back in the days."
And it was different. More innocent, in some ways. You could write more, you could open up more, because you weren't as afraid (or didn't realize that you should be afraid) of the things you were posting socially. That level of honesty really appealed to be, because it wasn't something I had in "real" life. And for someone who was trying to keep his marriage going, even though there were severe problems that had gone unaddressed for years (since the beginning?), that level of honesty, that ability to open up, was a life saver. It also probably helped move Josie and I closer and closer to divorce.
It was so refreshing. At last I had an outlet, somewhere on-line where I could semi-publicly talk about my sexuality, rather than writing things down in a notebook and filing it away in some dusty corner. One of my first entries was about my first crush, where I admitted that it had been a boy, not a girl. That was a big step for me. Was it intended to be read by my wife (who was also on Live Journal at the time)? Absolutely. Was she encouraging me to do it? Absolutely. We both had this great big band aid that we wanted to rip off, I think. To expose the wounds to the light of day. To heal.
Because it was Josie and I, and none of our "real" friends (no one was doing Google searches, back in those days), we could be completely honest. But also, because it was a community, we started to gather online friends. People from different places, different experiences. Some similar, some as far from our situation as could be. Some offered us sympathy for what we were going through, and support. Some were less than kind. I well remember one guy who handed me my ass when I had the nerve to post one day that I thought my gay thing was just a phase I was going through. How dare I! I wish he had been kinder. I could have learned more from him. He wasn't, and we parted ways online
But so many other friends stayed in my life. People that have become more than just online friends. People that are now on my Facebook, that I write to, that I exchange cards with. Some have come to visit me. And because they had a deeper level of understanding who I am, through my Live Journal, through watching the process, through getting to know my soul, in some ways, so many of them have remained friends. And that's amazing.
These days, Live Journal isn't the same. Maybe I'm just not the same. Maybe I have no more secrets left to reveal, I don't know. All I do know is that if one uses the stats that LJ provides as a guide, in 2012, in the month of January, my highest viewed post was 6,856. This year, that highest number is 3,118. Furthermore, that same month, I posted 22 times. This year, exactly half that. So, in just two years, there's been a fifty percent reduction in both output and interaction. Comments, too.
Of course, part of it is that there are so many other social distractions out there. Facebook and Twitter hog all of everyone's time. But in many ways, it is so much emptier than Live Journal was in its heyday. It's all surface. You cannot get into anything deep, for the most part. The medium does not allow for it. But does Live Journal even allow for what it used to allow these days? I am not sure. I don't know if healthy debates--like that guy who chewed my head off about getting pushed through the gay tube and came out straight--are really possible any more. I guess everything has to change with time.
So, no surprise here: I am going to renew my subscription. But I'd also like to make a few changes to what I do here, in the year ahead.
- Post more frequently. It's good for me. It keeps my writing muscles exercised. It helps me post to other places, too, when I am in the mood.
- Respond to my friends more often. With getting my book published, work, and other distractions, that's been hard. But to get more out of this, I have to put more into it. So, I will try to be better on that front.
- Add more friends? I don't know, is that even possible any more? Are there any to be had? I'm not the only one who has this question, I'm sure. People in LJ seem to fall into two camps: people who are going to be around here, writing about their lives, forever, and those who try it, make a few friends, get bored, and fall off the radar. It's not like Facebook, which has greater stickiness, and maybe that's part of the problem.