tonic room, Chicago/photo by Sadie Walker 

why i’ll never delete my LiveJournal 

(why you’ll never get to read it) 

Perhaps just mentioning it will sell me out. And I won’t get the job that requires the too-long slacks and peggish flat loafers, or whatever we are currently threatening our young people with in lieu of their lives spilling over on the Internets. I have a LiveJournal account and I’ve had it since my Junior year of high school. It contains the swarm of my life ages 16-23. And all of my honesty. Some of which, I barely remember. It contains my delusions in the most crude of times…up until about twenty three when my existence online became a fully formed enigma- something to tool and retool, to promote and taylor for the most influential eyes.

If you are not familiar with LiveJournal (LJ)it is a relic of a past internet. One you had to log-on-to to navigate. One in which your attention span was longer, your circles smaller, your tabs less open. Back in 2004, a group of us would often write on LJ about our anticipation of college acceptance letters. Our emoticon faces would be painted with looks of :hopeful:, :deep in thought:, :giddy:. LJ would ask at the end of each post: “What are you listening to?” Maroon 5, Jack Johnson, the Killers, the rain, we would answer.

LiveJournal was where I wrote about leaving San Diego State after a year of waiting for a boy who had broken up with me the day after my freshman orientation. Where I wrote about being fired from my first big-girl job after crashing my car in Wheaton, Illinois. Where I wrote about accepting a flight to visit someone in Hartford, CT I had met briefly at a New Years party. Where I wrote about falling in love (or what I thought of it) a lot- with a poet while tripping at Love Fest, with someone who wore leather and insisted on playing Frank Sinatra in traffic, with San Francisco, and then with Chicago.

I wrote about these things in secret- for few eyes to see and to lend their opinions of my faltering logic. All of my LJ friends and readers were quiet usually, there were few stated interactions- no excessive “likes” or “favorites”. If something written struck a chord (mostly, if it was worrisome), one would speak up. Those aware of my journal were people I knew in my palpable, real-human life set free in a blue-toned portal of the web to be honest and even excessively explanatory when inspired to do so. Being a part of this LJ community felt like sitting around an Internet campfire- nothing said would escape the circle, everything shared could save you from lonely. All in all, no more than 20 people read what I had to share. Perhaps I’m naive but I still believe that everything said there has stayed there. In those days, it seemed absurd that sharing every detail (or any detail) was cause for ruckus beyond the hem of the server. The Internet was a wilderness big enough to hold our strangest musings and make them small again. Now, everything I post gives me the stomach turn I feel when speaking in front of a room.

LiveJournal is still alive and active, though I write less than twice a year. The Russian social network’s top posts today involve a science fiction book review and a couple gif-y celebrity blogs. Top journals boast only 100-or-so views in a given day. LJ seems to have maintained it’s delightful little bumble of traffic.

Possessing a corner of the Internet that is untraceable and protected is something that you don’t hear much about currently. More and more, it seems we are giving-up our sacred places to the gaze of those around us both online and off. I too am guilty of this as well and have hiked to my favorite place in my hometown to snap a picture for my Instagram followers to see how rich and thoughtful of a life I lead.

In truth, I like who I was on the Internet better when I was young and brash though I know not how to do that anymore (and wouldn’t want the burden of it, honestly). My LJ is a space I guard in defense of my younger, wilder, more whimsical self. To alter or destroy this place would mean losing a version of me with an honesty I can no longer afford. I fear that few young women will ever afford this type of space again without a reverberating wave of criticism, worry, or consequence from their network of followers. I hope they have in fact found this wild, infinite space. I hope I’m just too old and subdued to know of it.