Last night, after a comedy gig, I had a chat with one of my wise friends, DrunkSage. He’s a real person, but that’s not his real name. DrunkSage is brilliant. He is intelligent, he’s empathic, educated, and jovial. He has two bachelor degrees, but in the fine arts, so he works in a book-store while trying to find success as an artist. DrunkSage also has an alcohol abuse problem, but it doesn’t matter, because he is an artist, you see.
Fine art, for the uninitiated, is the most arty of all art forms. It doesn’t get any artier than fine art. Nothing that Performance Art or Music can do will ever be good enough for the Artfather, but Fine Art can do no wrong. Fine Art, as DrunkSage informs me, is also the subject of a great deal more “intellectual pomposity” than comedy. As much as DrunkSage loves art, he disdains the art world and the people that inhabit it.
DrunkSage and I are talking about social media. I have a problem where I don’t filter my thoughts thoroughly (or at all), and it has caused me some problems (which I will write about another time). I’ve never had a blog until last week, so I’ve been using my Facebook profile as a sort of public diary instead. DrunkSage congratulates me on starting a blog, he believes this is an excellent move for me. He criticizes me for using social media to track my thinking, and tells me that there is no such thing as a public diary. The phase ‘public diary’ is an oxymoron, according to him. I disagree, so we’re talking about it.
I enjoy the idea of a public diary, and I believe that I (and anyone else who tries) can tailor existing social media constructs to suit my personal psychological needs. I see that there are social norms and conventions for using Facebook and Twitter, but I don’t see that I need to use it in the same way. I can use it in whichever way suits me. As with most products, the number of possibilities for use are greater than the number of intended uses*. However, using social media in my own way is not a clean hack, due to the social interference that social media encourages. Who would have thought? DrunkSage says I cannot change the social aspects of social media. He says that one cannot post in public without seeking public opinion. To reiterate, DrunkSage says that there is no such thing as a public diary. Anything anyone says in public is open to public scrutiny. I disagree.
My philosophy on thought and speech is fairly simple. I believe that people have the right to speak about whatever it is we’re thinking, and that we’re allowed to explore all mental concepts. For example, I have every right to explore the ideas of racism, from the perspective of a racist. As long as this doesn’t influence me to take racist action, it doesn’t matter what thoughts and perspectives I employ. To that end, I believe that I ought to be able to say whatever I like. It doesn’t matter whether the things I say are true or false. Most importantly, however, is that we ought not to be ashamed of our thoughts, and that, unless we seek to govern or represent our fellow man, we are not accountable to our fellow man. What this means is, because I’m a nobody without any social or political or economic power, I cannot be held to a high standard of thought. I cannot be held hostage to explain myself, and that I am not deserving of having my opinion come under attack. I believe that, as a nobody, I should be able to write my thoughts out into the world, where anyone can choose to read them or not read them (not reading is very easy), and that I can explicitly reject comment from others. I cannot be forced to hear others opinions, because it’s not like those others are my constituents.
This is why I believe in the public diary. It’s putting your opinion into a public space, and expecting nobody to interfere with your thought. This is not unreasonable, because these thoughts are written out, and anyone can choose not to read.
I should explain why anyone would want to post their opinions in public, if not for the public to read those opinions. I, myself, have one reason. Posting my thoughts in public affirms that my thoughts are nothing to be ashamed of. I believe that am free to think whatever I like. I put my thoughts in public, as if to tell myself that it doesn’t matter if anyone reads my thoughts, I have nothing to be ashamed of.
DrunkSage, like many other people who have peeked at my Facebook exploits, maintains that Facebook is not the correct place to exercise this philosophy, as Facebook has a comments section. A blog, one without a comment box, is the correct place. In additions, Facebook is in people’s face, whereas a blog is not, making Facebook less suitable to the task. And on this point, I continue to disagree.
The fact that people are able to comment, but know not to do so (except to affirm my thought) is the ultimate affirmation of my freedom of thought. Facebook having a comment box better suits it to serve my needs as a public diary. The fact that my thought is under the nose of other (procrastinating) people, where they can still easily refuse to read it, is the cherry on top. Facebook is ideally suited to be a public diary, if such a thing is possible (and I believe that it is).
However, the principle problem remains, using Facebook as a public diary is not a clean hack. There is social interference. As my social circle grows, this problem becomes more and more apparent. The heart of the problem here, is that the people on my Facebook age are part of my social life. Sometimes, my thoughts involve them, and even when my thoughts don’t involve them, they seem to think my thoughts do. I have not yet overcome this problem. I’ve considered just filling my Facebook up with people I don’t know, but I don’t want to do that. What I really need, is to convince all my Facebook friends not to treat my Facebook proclamations as their concern (because it isn’t their concern in any case). DrunkSage says that, in addition to how this can’t be done, to do this is to ignore the reality of social media. By expecting people not to comment in the little box that says ‘Write a comment…’, I’m ignoring reality. My rebuttal is that this reality is a social reality. It is only made so by the fact that public opinion makes it so. If public opinion changes, the reality changes. I will it to be different, and if enough other people buy into my will, it becomes truth.
DrunkSage was still in the process of counter-rebuttal, but we then needed to call it a night, as the venue was closing. So we agreed to disagree. And that’s all I have to say about that.
*See Life Hacks