Some things I write with the intention that no one should read. EVER. Like my stalker story from middle school. Like my Google Keep. Like my diaries. Those things were supposed to be for my own records only, and if anyone were to look over my shoulder as I wrote them, I would have instantly closed my computer/notebook and shooed them away, perhaps with violence.
But a few years/months later, they’ve all ended up on here for the Internet to read, and any despair I had at originally posting them has since dissipated. The passing of time has made all my memories fuzzier and made blurred the edges of all my embarrassing stories.
I decided to remove the password from some of my old posts a few weeks ago. Namely, this one, this one, this one, and this one. It was liberating (if not scary), but it also got me thinking about all the writing I put out.
It’s not just this blog. All the Facebook messages I type out, all the emails, all my school assignments, are written for other people’s eyes. I don’t always put as much effort into those as I should, and I’m worried that it reflects on me poorly.
My private writings are even sloppier. If no one’s going to read something I write, I have no motivation to make it good. I’ve started carrying around a notebook as a planner and as a place to record fringe thoughts (Also to look busy during class when I don’t feel like paying attention). And I’m fiercely protective of it, partially because the ideas are bad and partially because they’re, well, private. Occasionally, I’ll show a page to someone, but if they start flipping around, I will snatch it from them. They’re not full of doodles and carefully crafted calligraphy, but I’m in love with the idea of recording spur of the moment epiphanies on paper.
Amidst the old post it notes I collected in middle school, I found a variety of writings–notes passed in class ,annotations, reminders, random doodles, testing out pens, scratch paper. With the exception of a few friends whose handwriting I recognized, most of these notes might as well have been written by strangers. But I felt like I had some sort of connection with these people. It reminded me a bit of my stalking–trying to grasp onto some part of someone in order to understand them better.
It’s an idea that’s becoming more and more popular. Most of the appeal of Humans of New York and similar projects stems from the idea that a single quote can reveal profound insights about humanity. On one hand, I think it’s beautiful that a handful of words can define a person. On the other hand, it scares me that the scattering of writing that I leave everywhere are supposed to represent who I am and that each person will only see a small portion of these pieces. That maybe this is all just some sort of shallow 21st century interaction and that it’s simply not an accurate picture of who I am.
What’s the solution? The Law of Large Numbers. Statistically, the more I write and produce, the more accurate the resulting body of writing will be. Even if the individual pieces aren’t accurate, in the long run, everything will average out. With HONY, the individual people may not be representative of the population, but as a whole, it paints a complete picture.
In my world, it means “Write and produce as much as possible, but also engage with the world”
Because xkcd is the best.