Sort of a response to Sara Zarr’s recent post, but also simply something I’ve been thinking about for a while:

Ten years ago in my journal — a paper one, though I did have a website in ’99 — I wrote about rereading old journals:

“They keep me honest. They document enough of my past that I’m less capable of lying to myself about what I thought, felt, and valued in, say, late 1989, for instance. Sometimes it makes me nervous to read them, because they also document the inevitability of change, and that makes me worry about how many of the things I now take as certainties will retain that status in my life.”

And yeah, unsurprisingly, I’ve changed my mind about a few things since 1999. No doubt,by 2019, I’ll have changed my mind about some other things (maybe even some of the 25 things!), and there’ll be evidence of the changes, at least for anyone who cares enough to search back through my archives and the Wayback Machine.

So, another element to consider about truth-telling, especially when what you’re saying is preserved in print or online, is that you’re telling the truth of the self of that moment. Obviously, some things remain constant — I doubt I will soon become a nonreader, for instance — but others, well, they shift. And as more and more people’s lives and relationships play out online, in some version of ‘public,’ these shifts will become more visible. I wonder if our perceptions of what telling the truth means will shift, too?

You Might Also Like

  • sara z.
    February 3, 2009 at 10:50 am

    I was thinking about that, too, in relation to why it feels easier for me to be honest on my blog than when I’m setting down an essay for publication. Everyone understands blog posts are “of the moment,” I think, while there is something about the printed page that seems “ever was, ever more shall be.”

    As for my paper journals – they are mostly amusing to me, sometimes horrifying, and I don’t really trust them, either. Because I would tend to only journal when going through something very difficult or dramatic, they give a pretty skewed vision of my life…