Diary or Diarrhea?

Last time I told you about why I want to write this blog. But what is a blog after all? Is it just a digital diary? Or is it a collection of contentless crap that had to be removed from my mind? Digital diarrhea so to speak? Let’s try to find out what hides behind this kinda trendy concept of digital documentation of thoughts:

When our parents were teenagers, the idea of a diary was quite popular. An empty book, being filled with huge amounts of personal insights. Stories from your life. Secrets about your feelings. If you want, you might even call it a record of your parents‘ lives during that time. No matter if you saw it in movies, read your parents‘ records or were writing a diary of your own, you might agree that the writers opened their hearts to a soulless piece of paper. Take Ginny Weasley as an example. She felt lonely, found Tom Riddles book and told the book everything about her. In her case, the result of opening yourself that much fired back quite hard (I hope you all have read Harry Potter or at least watched the movies). But I bet that everyone of you knows the relief that you feel when you bear a secret that no-one must know and you finally get the chance to talk to your best friend about it. In my opinion, a diary has a similar function. It evokes the same relief when you write down all the weight you carry around. And like a good friend, you expect a diary to keep your secret.

A blog on the other hand has a quite contrasting purpose. Investigating the name itself (which is a short form for web log by the way) already unveils its direct connection to the web. The world wide web, a network thats major purpose has always been to connect and to learn. So every blogger should be aware that keeping his digital posts a secret is a contrast to the entire idea of knowledge sharing that made the web as big as it is today. If you want to digitally write about the feelings you have for Justin Bieber, the things you want him to do with you, go ahead. But be aware that the web won’t keep your words hidden.

So what good is a blog if you cannot trust in privacy? In this case, turn your view around and make its weakness your strength. Use it, to spread your word, your ideas and thoughts. When I spent a semester in South-East Asia, I wrote a blog exactly for that purpose. To tell others about my experiences. About what I discovered, what I learned. And every time I finished a post, I felt the intensively positive feeling that I did actually tell something I wanted to tell.

Some, especially companies, consider a blog just as another marketing tool, as another mainstream opportunity to reach as many customers as possible. They write blogs to keep their followers up to date by using pre-approved marketing language, slogans and buzzwords without a clear meaning. Do they maintain a professional impression? Yes. Do they use eloquent language and beautiful expressions? Absolutely. But do they create a benefit for their readers? Do these blogs contain useful content that helps interested readers to satisfy their desire for information, to solve their problems or to inspire the community? Rarely. If you take away all those fancy sounding buzzwords, what is left that creates a value? Way too often, it is just digital diarrhea. Meaningless content, created to sound fancy and innovative. Sadly, many digital writers have forgotten about a blog’s similarity to its analogue ancestor, the diary. About the expression of thoughts, opinions and the relief that you feel if you can finally tell about something you were longing for because it is worth it.

„Remember what it felt like to tell your friend about a secret.“

So what is the bottom line of this diary-blog comparison? I think it comes down to two things. First of all, do not produce digital diarrhea. The web is already full of it and people get tired reading the same things again and again. Secondly, remember what it felt like to tell your friend a secret. Remember the relief for not bearing the burden alone. And then think about your current secrets. About things you want to shout out. And then do it, to feel the relief again. Because that is, what a blog is for.