My dad once told me that the reason he quit facebook after his very brief time using it was because he wasn’t a narcissist and didn’t think anyone should care to hear about whatever random thing pops into his head or whatever. This is sort of fitting with his generally reticent and private approach to life and is not something I really on any level understand. I know some people do eventually end up becoming great friends with their parents and I imagine some even learn to comprehend their reasoning, but that’s never really been an option as far as I’m concerned. My dad is a bit scary and unfathomable and I always feel guilty and odd and generally uncomfortable around him. Not really a Kafkaesque terror of him and his virility or superiority or anything like that, just the sort of unease around someone who is or was or has been something of a distant relative for most of your childhood while you were raised by someone who was vituperatively in opposition to him, popularly blaming him for behavioral mishaps or occasionally summarily labeling you as “just like your father” when you don’t think you did anything particularly wrong but anyway it creates a lot of odd tension there.
It’s not to say I don’t like my dad, in fact I like him very much. It’s not to say I don’t emulate him either, it’s just a weird uncomfortablility. Like a scar that didn’t really heal right so now you can’t quite flex your middle finger without some awkwardness or you can’t fully curl your toes or putting your knees on the ground just so causes you intense pain.
Personal writing gets compared to masturbation a lot, with the same connotations of the sort of thing you should do in the privacy of your bathroom or not at all and sharing it is kind of privately looked down on. It’s a sort of “keep it in the family/stop snitching” thing that serves as a social force actively preventing expression. The idea that no one wants to hear what you have to say or that you’re just repeating other people but worse or the idea that you’re whoring yourself out for attention and on and on. They’re all constructs of the mind; excuses and rationalizations and justifications for the sublimation of your self or your ego or your character or your internal monologues.
And they’re understandable. Nothing in the world is more understandable than insecurity. Literally every being who has ever lived on this planet grapples with some form of insecurity. Insecurity is just the difference between your mental idea of what you should be and who you are and no one lives up to their internal idea of who they are. And we can only blame ourselves, ultimately. Every single day we wake up and go literally or metaphorically outside and expose ourselves to image after image after icon after symbol of perfection and beauty and moral rectitude and every single day we go outside and get ourselves into vicious knife-fights with each other about how badly we’re failing to live up to standards and we invent news standards by which to appease ourselves about the other being that much worse so at least even if we’re failing to be perfect we’re more perfect than they are and it goes on and on until we’re all aged and infirm and judging each other in the gated communities right up until they find us dead in the kitchen trying to eat a 100 calorie yogurt cup or sitting in front of The Real Life mouth open midway through complaints about the imperfections of kids these days.
It’s a wonder anyone gets out of bed at all and not at all surprising when many of us don’t or would like not to except for our need to feed ourselves and cover our surroundings with distractions from our imperfection.
So I don’t know what to tell you. Insecurity is a force in your head and it’s a force that paralyzes you with fear, more or less, and stops you from achieving the full expression of your personhood. Yes it does bad things but it’s not like it’s for me to tell you that you should stop it or anything so trite as the idea that since it’s only in your head then it’s somehow any less real or physical or deadly. Conceptually this is just me describing the problem, attempting to find its true name so it can be bound or banished like any other demon or spirit.
Personal writing has benefits, chief among them being the sort of organizational power they can have for your thoughts. Through personal writing you can discuss a certain set of emotions you feel and read them back to yourself on paper and think about them in a new way and come up with new conclusions. With personal writing you can synthesize information that flows through your brain on your daily slog through underachievement world and turn it into something coherent and meaningful. With personal writing you can escape the flesh and bone and keratin shell you’re trapped in and at last interface with the world around you, if only in an instantaneous, photographic way.
It’s also a weak point. A vulnerability, a sort of handing keys to your car to whoever happens by except those keys are to your feelings, or if you’re at least a little more guarded it’s like exposing a tiny bit of yourself underneath the armor you wear out of doors as you walk through the hell-world that is social interaction, not enough to get seriously wounded but enough to hurt and enough to bleed and enough to keep you awake until you bind that wound or eventually forget about it or find yourself attentively deleting every attack and rationalizing away every attack and booting them all out of your restaurant because they hurt you and your world. It’s admitting to the world that beneath your armor and behind your façade and below your cool you are “only” human and “only” human in a way that denies or disrupts or destroys your pretension otherwise. You are “only” imperfect, despite all the attempts to say and prove otherwise and everyone is there to steal your perfection from you, cutting you down and making you that other because it’s the way to become more perfect.
I understand, I know there are things about yourself don’t say. You don’t say them because you don’t want to deal with their implications or their complications or their consequences. I am bisexual and I don’t say it to gay men because it turns into a conversation about inevitability and I don’t say it to straight people because it becomes an inevitability and I don’t say it to the progressive enlightened because it becomes a conversation about the injustice rendered by what they assume to be bisexuality, the transphobia that they insist it implies, so it becomes another conversation about inevitability, that ultimately I must not be bi but homo/hetero/pan. So I say nothing and let what assumptions will pass wash over me. Better this than to listen to an endless litany of nonsense and overt erasure. Dan Savage would be mad, but then Dan Savage thinks I don’t exist anyway, since Dan Savage has invaded my brain and determined for me who I am or am not attracted to.But that’s not really much of a thing. Depression is another one of those things. You don’t tell friends or family members about your suicidal ideation, really, because it’s not likely a ton of people are really going to understand it and their attempts to do so are usually inadequate at best and it’s not like they can actually do anything other than suggest debilitating drug regimens and a cavalcade of well-meaning but ultimately terrible professionals that act out a devised script based on a handful of academic theories loosely derived from a crackpot with way too much influence. People who do talk about depression are inordinately brave, since there’s always always always someone in the crowd who is gonna yell “why don’t you just get over it, loser?” or you grow up with a parent who thinks you should just willpower your way out of all the problems she described you as having and all the problems you actually had and then later a pre-jilted lover tells you “wow it’s a wonder you don’t hate all women” because all of literary criticism theory and much of semiotics is based on that same crackpot and his weird obsession with children’s relationships to their parents.