The concept of a "public diary" seems counterintuitive.  But the phenomenon lives in the format of "blogs", such as the user pages contained within DiaryLand and LiveJournal, and the myriad of independent blogs existing on the Internet today.  I have one, my girlfriend has one, a few dozen of my online pals have them.  Driven by an unrelenting desire to tell SOMEONE, even if it's an anonymous stranger, their problems, public diarists unload their innermost thoughts, their oft-times embarrassing inner dialogues, into the digital world of the Internet.

This behavior usually results in very great highs and very deep lows.  Criticisms to a public diary are much more lifting or cutting than criticisms of any other piece--you aren't criticizing mere words anymore, you are criticizing a person's innermost thoughts.  When you read a public diary, don't comment if it's bad.  "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" is even more poignant in this world.  The weights of compliments and hate mailings are increased by a power of several hundred.

I mentioned earlier that my girlfriend has a public diary.  I will go on record by saying that her diary saved our relationship many times.  Imagine how much easier it is to be a boyfriend when you are able to read your girlfriend's thoughts!  I appreciated the existence of her DiaryLand page so much that I created my own.  If honesty is the key to a good relationship, public diaries are the emergency skeleton key to being a caring friend or lover.

There are risks to baring your soul on the Internet, however, and the risks are high.  By creating a public diary, you have to assume that everyone you've ever known WILL read it.  It's wisest to let your close friends know about the diary, because they will probably find out sooner or later.  Some friends will embrace it, others will recoil and lose trust in you.

Even still, the things you write will probably find their way into the eyes of those who you don't want reading them.  Passwording your diary so that only certain people can read will only delay the inevitable.  People will read it, and be hurt--all the things you wanted to say to Jeff (where Jeff = the name of some person who could be potentially hurt) about how he hurt you will wind up in your diary and eventually into Jeff's cranium.  And Jeff might even be justifiably angry.  He doesn't know anything about the agony you felt, he only knows that you wrote something bad about him on the Internet.

Worse yet is when you AREN'T angry at Jeff, but you share some part of his personal life as a means of extrapolating your own feelings, mentioning in passing that he is cheating on his girlfriend, a closeted homosexual, or having sex with a close friend's sister.  What happens when his girlfriend, his homophobic friends, or his close friend finds out about this?  Jeff is once again justifiably angry--you're "running some rumor site on the internet".  He doesn't understand, and can't understand unless he starts his own public diary.

At the worst, you can use an assumed name and change the names of all people and places appearing in your diary.  It prevents people from getting to know you better, which can defeat the purpose, but it will provide some security.

A public diary is, at its heart, a double-edged sword of self-enlightenment and exhibitionism.  It's something that most non-diarists don't understand.  All you can do is hope that you break even on friends--that the friends who abandon you will be balanced out by the lives your innermost thoughts touch.

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