delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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This is going to be contraversial
delirium happy
rho
So. Blogging, huh? The great future of the interweb. The free flow of information. The new channels of communication. The meritocracy. The sheer wonder of it all.

And the audacity that I have to spout such bullshit.

It's a belief held among certain people that blogging is a great social and technical revolution that will change the world (and the sort of people who believe this will always refer to it as blogging). This is entirely unsurprising, as the Internet has proved that there is no idea so ridiculous that somebody somewhere doe not hold it and, furthermore, have a website devoted to it. It is also entirely unsurprising that they are wrong.

There are, essentially, two types of weblogs. First there are the ones that are pure vanity and self indulgence on behalf of the author, who likes to think that he matters and can make a difference. This is the model adopted by most people who use the word "blog". They have all sorts of harmful effects, such as cluttering up search engine results, and creating the blog-weenie, which is a subspecies of humanity that is possibly even more annoying than the linux-weenie, although not quite as bad as the slashdot-weenie.

Then there are the ones that are only of interest to the author's friends. This is the LiveJournal model. This has been the LiveJournal model ever since bradfitz first created it way back when as a system to allow him to keep his friends up to date with stuff. And the best thing about the LiveJournal model is that it's fairly harmless. Most of the traffic is limited to a few sites, so it's easy to avoid in search results, and while there are a few people who passionately believe that their LiveJournal is the centre of the universe (see LJ Drama for instances of this) these people are generally fairly well segregated from the Internet at large and are easy to ignore.

The third type, which is the blog that is interesting and insightful to unconnected readers is sufficiently rare that it can be discounted as a statistical error.

This has been my long held opinion. As such, I'm sure you can imagine my shock, chagrin and dismay at realising just how deeply harmful LiveJournal is.LiveJournal promotes laziness anbd discourages the formation of friendships. In the old days, if you met someone nifty on the Internet, you'd exchange emails and get to know each other. In the slightly less old days, you'd talk to them via instant message, and get to know them. These days, you add each other to your LiveJournal friends pages and never get to know each other at all.

For some reason, people (and I include myself in this, to some extent) seem to think that having someone on your friends list is "enugh". It retains that tenuous thread between two people. It keeps alive the "I think you're nifty" element, that potential for a friendship to form, while only rarely actually pushing into a true friendship. LiveJournal is about doing the bare minimum required.

LiveJournal is also about a "one size fits all" approach. When I used to have things on my mind, I used to discuss them with different people individually, talking them through and coming to realisations as I did so, and changing my opinions as I went along. I used to talk to different people, tailoring what I said based upon their knowledge, their clearance level, my perception of their opinions and so on. On LiveJournal, that doesn't happen. If you want to tell a story to a group of people, but want to include a certain minor element of the story to a certain subgroup, then you'll probably end up leaving out that minor detail, as any other option is just too much trouble.

LiveJournal is about convenience over sense. People read things on their friends page not because they actually want to, but because it's convenient and because it's there. Just adding one more journal to read takes up no time whatsoever, but then it all adds up, and LiveJournal turns into a timesink that it couldn't possibly be if it weren't so quick and easy.

In short LiveJournal is all about acquaintances and nothing to do with friends.

With all of this in mind, I'm now contemplating going on sabatical from LiveJournal. I'm thinking about making no entries whatsoever, and not reading my friends page at all, for a period of, say, four weeks. I may still read individual journals, but if so I will do so individually, to force myself to be selective. If I want to continue to communicate with LiveJournal people, I will do so by some other means, that is actually not directly a harmful. Likewise for anyone else who wishes to have contact with me. I think a trial period of, say, 4 weeks would be a suitable starting point, and then see where I go from there.

So, my question at this point is as follows: can anyone think of any good reason why I shouldn't do this? Speak within the next few days or forever hold your peace.

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It sounds like a good idea, but a good deal of self-control. Then again, if you throw your computer out the window, there's no self-control issue.

You're brave to try. :D

Hmm. I don't know - LJ has actually provided me with more insight and knowledge about some of my friends that just email or talking in chat wouldn't have revealed. A lot of people on my friends list can be very frank and honest about themselves in their entries, and post bits of information about themselves that I wouldn't have necessarily thought to ask, let alone dare ask.

Sometimes, just waffling can provide far more information than directed questions or conversation does.

This said, there are those LJs that are convenient - many people just talk about nothing at all, and you gain no insight into their character or personality. Friending for the sake of friending is pointless, and that does seem to be what a lot of people do.

As for a good reason not to take a break from LiveJournal, I can't think of one. In general, breaks from the internet are probably sensible anyway - it's all to easy to get stuck in internet land and forget that real life exists. Your interesting posts would be missed from my LJ... but then that's selfish from my point of view, and not a good reason for you to not take a break.

So, I say if that's what you feel you should do, good luck.

I've heard things along these lines before. And I think it's largely true that that is how people use it. But I still think it's all a matter of how you choose to use it. The problems aren't inherent in he system; people choose to let these problems happen.

I started my LiveJournal because I was seriously ill and having trouble speaking. I wanted a place where I could practice saying things so that I wouldn't stop being able to because of the disease running through my body. And it worked for that. It helped keep me going while I physically couldn't talk out loud or was stuttering badly.

I've gotten to know some people, and not bothered with most. But it's still more social contact than I'd get without LJ. Basically, I think you should figure out if it's right for you. For me, the internet is just about the level of social contact I can handle right now. LJ is right for me. But if it starts replacing real contactas you want, then it's bad.

I know several people who have taken long leaves of absence from LJ for reeasons similar to what you list, and I think that's fine.

Just as I think it's fine to be annoyed at anyone who is hurt because when you see them in real life, they complain that you don't know about stuff that happeened to them that they posted in their journal.

But I still think it's all a matter of how you choose to use it. The problems aren't inherent in he system; people choose to let these problems happen.

That's really not true for me. There is no way for me to use LiveJournal to suit my purposes, at least not without irritating everyone I come into contact with. I'm an extremely private, one-on-one type of person, and the structure of LiveJournal severely limits how much it can be used for those kinds of interactions. Sure, I could make a bunch of friends groups that have only one person in them, but then that means I can only write entries aimed at 30 different people (or use multiple accounts). I don't necessarily want to restrict the number of people I communicate with that much.

And it's very frustrating and not at all my usage of LiveJournal that's the problem when I have "friends" say that they only want to communicate through LiveJournal because it's more convenient for them. What they really mean is that taking 10 minutes or so to write me an e-mail is more effort than our friendship is worth. Also, communicate doesn't mean communicate in most of these cases. It usually means "make all your thoughts available to me, so that if I'm sufficiently bored I can read them but not respond".

I see your point, really I do. And in the situations I described it is at least partially the users' fault that LiveJournal gets used that way. However, the structure of LiveJournal helps to encourage that. These are not thoughtless or lazy people I'm talking about, and prior to their joining LiveJournal they'd have had no problems with taking a little time to actually have a conversation.

What they really mean is that taking 10 minutes or so to write me an e-mail is more effort than our friendship is worth.

Personally, a decent email to a friend takes me an hour, minimum (as do most of my entries). Try keeping up with ten people on a regular basis like that, let alone two hundred. I can understand why people feel that LJ "isn't enough," but for me, at least, it's the best I can do without compromising my rest-of-life in the process.

Same here - and I'm not even posting much at the moment, plus there's all those people on MSN you get involved in conversations with as well, then when you remember you were halfway through writing an email, it's quite frustrating.

The irony of using a comment to respond to this is sickening, but I'm one of those lazy people you were talking about. I think it's an excellent idea. I hate what LiveJournal has done to my friendships and my sense of socialization, but I probably don't have the self-control to manage four weeks of not reading my friends page. Then again, this could be a nice partner project. ;)

One idea that crossed my mind, to reduce the temptation of reading a friends page, would be to remove everyone from your default view so you'd have to actively add them back instead of just idly wandering over to the friends link. Also, since you wouldn't be planning to use your journal much at all during that time, making it not be your browser's homepage (assuming it is currently). In fact, having no homepage sounds like a lovely idea. Starting with a blank slate when you get online and choosing where you want to go instead of having a particular site that you go to because it's there and not necessarily because you have any real reason to visit it at that point.

i'd miss reading your entries, but we talk often enough that i wouldn't have to miss /you/, and if you disappeared from IRC too, my current only means of chatting with people, I'd miss you a heck of a lot.

and, for me writing is very healing and very helpful and keeps my mental health stable, and has done so for a long time, and I'm not sure it couldn't do this for you, so it's something to consider, and something i wouldn't take a break from even if i were taking a break from LiveJournal. do you have any paper journals that you could use to sort out your thoughts?

On reading this I considered how long I have been your friend and how much I knew about you and have to agree with you on the point that LiveJournal makes people lazy. With that in mind I wholly support your idea and hope to hear from you by IM/email and get to know one another better.

Then again, do you want to get to know me better? It's a question that has been asked and visited many times before, but is the concept of a LiveJournal friendship necessarily the same as that of friendship?

Contact details:
Yahoo: morbid_black_rose
AIM: diamondsandperl
MSN: rozallin@hotmail.com
E-mail: rozallin@rozallin.co.uk

I don't know. I think often times you sit down and logically think yourself into a well-explained hole. And you usually seem to do this by assuming the way you behave is somewhat the norm amongst other people using LJ.

The vast majority of LJ friends communicate with me outside of LJ. I usually get at least one piece of mail per week from someone I know from LJ. I regularly send mail out to people I feel would like getting things as well, and almost always reciprocate. I know you've gotten at least one tangible piece of mail, because I sent you one, and I'm sure I haven't been the only one.

I choose to act a certain way, and use LJ a certain way, and I choose to surrond myself with others who do so. Which isn't to say that others who don't use it that way are wrong, just to point out that there are options and that what you get out of it is a choice you make yourself, and if it's a timesink that provides no true friendship for you, that's because you've in some way choosen for it to be just that.

Part of me wants to convince you not to go, because you've been someone I've liked and wanted to know more about but felt as if maybe you didn't share that feeling and I think I've more of a chance to find out about that if you remain here. Maybe I've been lazy, and this would be an excuse for me to continue to be lazy though. I hope whatever you do choose to do finds you in a far better and happier head-space than you've in lately.

Hmmm.

This deserves insightful and intelligent comment - but since this has been discounted as a statistical error, you'll have to make do with me.

You're wanting to do this anyway, so do it. Worst comes to worst, you'll have a lot of stuff to read when you get back.

Another option would be to simply not use your friends list at all, or remove almost everyone from the default view - just stuff which is actually important. (I consider about four or five weblogs I read to be important. I *Want* to know what goes on there, because they belong to friends who are very important to me. Maybe six.)

Yes, that's not the same thing as what you're talking about. I know.

I think a distinction should be made between livejournal and conversing, though. A conversation is a real-time thing. There's no real weblog system that can do that properly, and it *shouldn't*. Taking the example of you having something on your mind, what should go on a weblog is the *result* of your conversing with people - not least because the people who you talked to will likely be interested to know where your mind ended up. If it was interesting, *you* might want to know, in six months time. I tend to write diary entries for one of only three reasons - I want to remember something in a few months, I want to let people know what's happenening because I think there's a reason to tell them, or to get stuff out of my head after I've finished thinking on it, so I have a record. I don't really give a shit what people think about it, which is why I go to such tedious lengths about programming projects. (I'm chronically apologetic, so I say sorry anyway, but I don't *stop*...)

I see what you're saying, and in some ways I agree with you.

On the other hand, I find it much easier to maintain my friendships now, and I don't think they're just acquaintanceships (some are, but not across-the-board). I couldn't keep up with all my friends before - I would lose them for sheer lack of time and social drift. I couldn't be as deep with them, there were overtones of obligation (I had some of them walk because I hadn't replied to them in X period of time), etc. Whereas on LJ I feel that I can put myself out there, and people can take what enriches them and skim what doesn't, and I can do the same. I find it's a deeper level of communication, but a deeper level of mutual freedom as well. Ultimately, I think that friendships that would previously have fallen apart for lack of time/whatever, or that would have failed to weather conflict, have survived, because we're still there touching base.

That said, I do think it's pretty cool to take a break. I know for my part I do feel a bit "obliged" at times to read my Fpage all the way through to where I got up to last time, and a break is good for breaking that mindset (which IMO defeats much of the purpose).

And I love, love, love what you said about the different types of weblogs. I hate the blog-weenie mentality. Hate it. Hugh loves surfing blogs and I just don't. understand. the appeal at all.

*puts hand up* I've just posted a _completely_ self-indulgent poll in another account - that said, there are few people on the friends' list of that account anyway, and those there I consider friends enough to let 'em deeper into my life than in this one.

Yes, me and you're only aquaintances, I'm here 'cause I like reading what you write, you talk sense. Why you read my lj I have no idea... but I find I'm grateful for your perspective, whether it opposes mine or not.

It's an interesting experiment.

I tend to find that perspectives are most valuable when they oppose your own :)

Mostly yes... some of us need an ego stroke occasionally though. *g*

There is no good reason why you shouldn't do it. If it's not fulfilling and you feel like you need a break, then you absolutely should do that. Most of us will still be here when you get back, if you feel like coming back. =)

The only compelling reason I can think of is that I will miss you, because you and I rarely talk off-LJ. And that's certainly not worth not taking a sabbatical, especially when weighed against the neat insights you'll hopefully post when you return.

i'd only argue that livejournal is mostly about acquaintances and rarely about friends. rather than never. actually... i think it's like 60-75% aquaintance, 35-20% mutual admiration/ego-stroking, and 5% friends.

i like you lots though (*stroke stroke*) and hope to stay in some form of contact with you. i still owe you a reply letter.

I can't think of any reason why not, but I have to disagree (for myself) that all people don't friend people that they want to read. I only friend people who I find interesting enough to read or have known offline or a long time and want to keep up with them. Once someone stops posting things interesting to me, I usually defriend them. Just me, though.

There are certainly people that I've made friends with through lj, in the same way that I have through USENET (enismirdal springs to mind, since I've actually met her IRL).

OTOH, if you want a sabbatical, do so.

I see livejournal as a useful tool... my friendslist contains a mix of people I know well in real life and some who are aquaintances who I know either through IRC or from occasional meeting. Since moving away from England and finding that I no longer get to see my friends as often as I would like I have found LJ an invaluable way of keeping in touch with these friends without having to repeat everything I say over and over in emails (and I'm not that keen on using the phone so never used to keep in touch that way before email and LJ... email and LJ have *increased* my "keeping in touch" quotiant!).

It _is_ possible to have different custom groups set up for posting to... some of my custom groups have as few as 3 or 4 people in them - this is how I manage the "level of detail" issues. To me LJ is like the occasional catch-up meetings you have with friends where you try to catch-up with everything that has happened since last you met... but in more managemeable chunks and without the RL hugs :-)

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I think it's more the level of information you glean from LiveJournal is completely unbalanced - through reading someone's friends list, you can learn what they get up to in their sex life and what they like to drink, but have no idea what their favorite colour is or even what they look like. Somehow, real life interactions balance that out, and other forms of communication also do so to a lesser degree.

I think that as mentioned above, it's the way that LJ falls uncomfortably into the gap between IM and e-mail / Usenet - you're encouraged to respond quickly and succinctly, but you can't get a proper conversation going because you've got too much time to think.

If you think your sabbatical will do you good, if only to see what happens, then I say go for it.

Friends-only entries considered harmful

I hear what you're saying, though I don't think it generalises. LiveJournal was built with one particular communication model in mind, and as long as you want to use it within that model it does the job well - it seems ideal for keeping large (perhaps unspecified) numbers of friends updated on your travels for example, and seems to be as good as anything else (well, as good as an RSSable blog, anyway) for multicasting news, ideas, MLP, etc.

I don't believe it's a very good substitute for more direct or realtime communication... if you want to talk to a specific person or small group, email is still the way to go - LJ lacks sufficient privacy (cue rampaging locals with torches and pitchforks protesting that LJ supports friends-only entries etc). IME friends-only entries are a disaster waiting to happen, as they give the illusion of privacy: the poster assumes that the entry will only be seen by the selected group of friends, the friends overlook the restrictions on the entry and casually discuss it around (or even forward it to) people who have not or should not have seen it, and people who were not on the list of friends able to see the article find out about it and resent not being on the list. With hilarious consequences. Of course all the same things can happen with email, they just seem to happen more often (or perhaps more publically) on LiveJournal.

So, friends-only is to be avoided in favour of email or similar. Which leaves private entries which by definition nobody's going to see (personally, if something's that private, I'd rather it were on a couple of my own disks, possibly encrypted), and the public stuff I mentioned above. I reckon LiveJournal has the advantage over discrete blogs here, as there is a unified user account system - it's handy to know who people are, and LJ does a pretty decent job of achieving this. But of course if people only used it for multicasting news and MLP this entry wouldn't have happened in the first place...

I have a strict no-entries-in-my-journal policy - I use my account strictly for comments. Mainly because I don't have very much that's worth saying that I'm comfortable with placing publically[1] on the interweb (beyond the occasional bit of MLP or "can anyone recommend a foo?", and I've no shortage of other places for that sort of thing). This seems to prevent it from becoming a massive timesink, for me anyway.

I'm rambling.

The other thing that occured, is that I don't believe I've ever initiated an online friendship in the way you describe... I've been introduced to various fora by people I already knew, and got to know the people there over time. I don't see LJ as particularly different in that respect (although looking at my friends list, the majority seem to be people I know from somewhere else who happen to have an LJ). This is probably my natural shyness, it probably works differently for the majority of the population.

I'll stop before I 'probably' myself to death. As for taking a sabatical, I reckon suck it and see.

[1] For reasons explained above, I see anything posted to LiveJournal to be effectively public, regardless of the restrictions on who can see it. The first law of computer security dictates that if someone wants to read it enough, they'll be able to.

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Well, I'll miss you.
I've taken forced break from the internet before (no, I didn't get "no TV for a week!" or "no having friends over" as a punishment when I was young...the most severe one I got was "no computer for two months!"). I didn't find them particularly beneficial. All I did was sit around reading--but I did that anyway. And I got too much sleep, so I was off the walls bouncy. And when I came back...things had changed, and I felt so lost, excluded. It's impossible to catch up. :-\

I find LJ better because I'm not comfortable writing individual e-mails to my friends. Although I have no problem disclosing information such as the location of my most recent piercing, I haven't mentioned any related fears or discomfort because I don't like to discuss my emotional state with other people. The same holds true for LJ, IM, e-mail, phone calls, and RL conversations. I feel safer when others don't have that loaded gun with which they can shoot me down. I'm a private person, or maybe I've been burned too many times. No matter. If we talk I'm likely to repeat everything I've said on LJ anyway, with perhaps another detail I've since remembered (I always forget to post stuff), but not much with deep meaning.

I have only 58 LJ friends (about half of whom actually post, the other half are RL friends, mostly ones I don't see often). I read only ones that interest me, that I care about. I dunno. I like LJ. It makes for less awkwardness when I see friends after a long time (going to school 500mi away from my friends made it difficult--they saw each other on weekends, and LJ prevented me from becoming an outsider). And I learn stuff. And see nifty pictures. And..oh, whatever. I'm not really trying to convince you not to ditch LJ. I'm just babbling on about how it works well for me. So I'll shush now.

Ack. I was laughing so hard at the first part I didn't notice the last. :/

I'll miss you, but you do what you want to do. And e-mail us! And talk to us! :hugs and kisses:

No reason at all; your choice. Me, I count myself among those for whom this is lots of socialization.

However stinky my timing on this, I'm going to add you to my friends-list anyhow, due to the sheer quantity of common interests the system claims we have. If you ever post anything again, then I'm all set to read ya.

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