Dear Diary: What’s the role of a personal journal in the digital age?
Originally posted on paidContent:
On July 8, 1997, a few days after my thirteenth birthday, I sat down at the big old desktop PC in my family’s basement, opened a new Word document and started my first diary. 15 years later, I am still writing in the diary I began back in 1997.
Of course, a few things have changed. 15 years ago, I had a dial-up AOL account, an email address, and Instant Messenger. Throughout high school, although the internet got faster and more of my friends got their own email addresses, the tools I used stayed pretty much the same. I copy-and-pasted some emails, and transcripts of AIM chats with crushes and friends into my diary, but the volume of this content was fairly light: My diary could still serve as an accurate representation of my life (at least, an accurate representation of the way I perceived my life to be at the time — which is, of course, the point of a diary), both offline and off.
Today, it doesn’t quite fulfill that role. With the advent of Twitter, Facebook, digital photos, texting, personal blogs, message boards and apps — and the sheer volume of email that I receive — my diary today can’t come close to fully representing the content I create, because nearly all of that content is created outside Microsoft Word. But does that make a diary any less important? I tapped my contacts — people I know in real life and people on Twitter — to find a group of people who keep diaries and asked them how their diary-keeping practices have changed over the years.