Thumper's mom said "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all", but I would advise differently.

I am not referring here to the various ways one may dis the outside world: slandering celebrities, critiquing art, stating political convictions. What I am saying here is if you can't write something nice about someone you care about, just don't write anything.

Somewhat anathema to the spirit of Everything, I do firmly believe this admonition when talking trash about friends, family or people you care about. It's something anyone with friends who read their nodes should take *very* seriously.

If someone you love has done something that you do not approve of, if they irritate you in one way or another and you simply have to get it off your chest but don't want to let on to the person you are angry or upset, then go right ahead. Make sure they are out of earshot and say it. Yell it out loud. Scream it. Pound your chest, if you need to.

But don't write it down. Once an idea is recorded, whether on paper or digitally, you won't know whose eyes may someday read your thoughts. The pen is mightier than the sword, they say, and it's true. The written word hurts much more than any spoken one, and if what you say is nasty, untrue or out of character, it will do nothing but reflect badly on you.

I was 14, I'd just landed my first boyfriend, and when my sister went on a high-school trip to Europe, my parents had the bright idea to grab some "private time" by railroading me into a week-long visit with my grandparents in Fredericton, New Brunswick. I really didn't want to go. I made that one crystal clear. When push came to shove, I went to Fredsville as I was told, and I was a good grand-daughter as I'd been brought up, but my rebellion was incipient.

I passed my time in the evening writing love-letters-cum-diary entries to my boyfriend - they were never intended to be passed on to him (even I could tell that he wouldn't be interested in my adolescent whining). At the end of the week I gathered up all the letters I'd written - five - no, six! I'd written six letters and I could only find five. I tore the guest room apart. No letter. I was pretty worried; in it I'd not only outlined what I wanted to do with his booty when I got home, but said some very ill-intended, uncomplimentary and nasty things about my grandmother and great-aunts, all of whom I found old (well, duh), nosy and boring.

The thought that my grandmother might read the letter really upset me. As soon as I got off the plane I told my parents what I had done. They were pretty angry, but shrugged and said just hope it's gone for good.

Two months later I was away on a babysitting job when my parents got the call. My nana was in tears. She'd been cleaning up the guest room and had found the letter between the mattress and box-spring. She read it over the phone to my parents. She told them she had shown my grandfather and that he had promised her that I would be disowned. I got home to some very pissed-off parents. They said I was lucky I had forewarned them, but that I'd have to be grounded for two months. Now, my parents didn't ground me very often, but when they did they were serious. No special exceptions. Grounding meant going straight home after school, no going off our property, no having friends visit, and no telephone calls.

Needless to say, I was dumped pretty quickly by that boyfriend.

One night, about a month in, I was fed up. I went downstairs to see whether, if I was drove her crazy enough, my mom would let me go out. I turned into devil-child, swearing at her, telling her the only way she could stop me from being horrible was to let me out of her sight, that I'd be horrible until she did.

She just looked at me and said "do you think I'm enjoying this? Your grandmother is a silly woman to have taken the grumblings of a child like you seriously, but you haven't even learned your lesson.

Never, ever write down how you really feel if you don't want people to know. If you do, burn it, shred it, but don't let something like that leave your sight for anyone elses'."

This is the end of the story. My grandparents died a few months apart about ten years later. They didn't leave much to inherit but each grandchild except me received several thousand dollars and some heirlooms. Worse to me was that the family all knew why I was not welcome to speak to them, not even while they were on their deathbeds.

It's why I can't bring myself to keep a private journal. I was finding the E2 daylog helpful, because I wouldn't say anything on E2 that I didn't mean or have a pressing need to say. I can't trust myself to do the same in a mute and moveable book.

Actually, while I would have agreed with this in the past, I think that that the saying is no longer entirely true. I think the saying should be modified to say:

If you can't write something nice, don't write anything at all ... unless you can encrypt it.

I think a lot of people find that writing down how they feel helps them clear their thoughts and helps sets things in perspective. Why else has diary writing and todays web diaries/forums/logs historically been so popular? However, I also think that a lot of people don't like writing down their thoughts for the very reasons that Whywait? mentioned. After all, who would want to write something private which has a very real possibility of being accidentally revealed.

However, in todays world, the use of encryption technologies has made our private ramblings that much more secure. Use something like PGP, and your written feelings and emotions are safe from all but the most determined hacker. I for one have started keeping a diary of my feelings and thoughts and all my ramblings are kept encrypted and secure. At least this way, I can offload my agitated mind into a text editor, without adding additional agitation that someone may read my diary.

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