peering through windows

june 27, 2001

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 I've decided to update the Asylum every Wednesday. The decision isn't really an important one, but it keeps my schedule straight, and I don't have to worry about the Asylum that much.

Of course, coming out weekly puts additional pressure on me to think of what to place here. I need the pressure, so I'm placing myself under it. So there.

Windows of glass

 If you didn't know already, I've made it a habit to read various journals and online diaries whenever I surf. (Check out the exits, under personal sites/blogs for more links. I visit the linked sites when I can.) I'm intrigued by what people write about themselves and their lives. I have to admit, most online journalists/diarists are aware that what they write is public. However, it still gives you a frank and honest glimpse into their lives, their thoughts, and their world. It's as if you were peering into their lives through large windows without curtains. You know that you can't see the whole of the room, but the view you have is amazing.

This whole practice is quite voyeuristic. Okay, maybe the material isn't that private, and maybe the writer knows who exactly his/her readers are. The nature of the Web, however, permits people to share things that are a little more personal online. Stories of people assuming identities in chat rooms abound— from DOMs taking on the role of friendly young men, to cheating husbands claiming to be single, to law enforcers assuming the guise of 10 year-old girls. The fact is the Internet allows you a degree of anonymity; it allows you to be honest about your feelings and to share private thougts publicly without fearing your privacy because no one really knows who you are.

An online journal is like a personal conversation between a priest and someone confessing— with both of them blindfolded. The analogy isn't perfect, I admit, but it's there.

Even with people who put up sites detailing a lot about them, there is still that certain anonymity. You know the person as much as you know Jose Rizal. You know how he/she looks like, what his/her favorite dishes are, or what time he/she moves his bowels. But you've never really met face-to-face with this person, so to you he/she is just another entity on this planet. The person most likely doesn't know you even exist.

Online friends

 Of course, I don't discount the possibility of online friendships, or even of online romances. Yet these things lack one thing real-life friendships and romances have— personal contact. You can't replace the glow of phosphor with the nuances of a voice, or the little mannerisms that capture a personality. You can't place in between <p>..</p> tags the croak that one makes when pronouncing certain words; you can't capture in lines of text the volumes spoken by a certain sneer.

And yet I still find myself poring over entries while at the back of my mind my conscience is nagging me to do that art paper. (Tsk, tsk JM. What's gotten into you, ignoring your conscience?) Maybe it's because these colorful scrapbooks capture the personality of the author, however poor the quality is compared to the real thing. I'm tremendously interested in people and in their lives.

It's quite a contradiction, being interested in people. I'd really be alone, and most of the time you'd find me at home on a Friday night. I'm quite introverted, and I'm not ashamed of it. I like my solitude. It allows me to contemplate a lot. However, I do enjoy the company of my friends. I do get out once in a while. While sometimes I wish I could shut myself out from this world, I grudgingly admit that the people around me make contemplating more interesting.

I've never quite carried an online friendship. The one thing I miss about those things is the proximity of real-life friends. I've never carried out a friendship by mail either. Besides, I'm not really that interested in doing so. So there.


 Think of these journals and diaries as autobiographies. They tell you the story of their lives, the way they want to tell it. Unlike the paper autobiographies, online journals and diaries afford the reader the power to see things as they happen in the author's life. They allow you to take part in the life of the author, one way or another. You don't know the ending (no one does, aside from the fact of death). That is what makes these things immensely interesting for me.

Of course, sometimes, things can get a little too scripted. You can't have everything.

I keep a personal journal. (How many times do you have to shout out that fact, JM?) I really wonder how people will dissect me long after I'm gone and only that remains. No matter, I doubt if I'll become famous. I might (dream on), but I doubt.

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