By Sarah Eckrich
April 11, 2013
Whether I am sick, tired, or just bored, for some reason, at some point during the day I find myself reading. There’s always material to be seen a first or second time, emails to be read and responded to, text messages, billboards, Facebook posts; the list goes on. Sometimes, I read something that makes me pause, reflect, and even experience some enlightening “aha” moment.
More often than not, I find the things I read to be nothing more than self-indulgent emotional molting. I think that once upon a time I believed this kind of public journaling to be cathartic for the writer and bonding for readers. The more I thought about it though, all those “aha”-inspiring sentiments kept pulling on my skirt.
What makes something inspiring is its ability to shed a new light or perspective on something. In writing, this means a fresh take on something, a unique synthesis of information that fosters in all of us the desire to reexamine something we had once overlooked.
This type of writing is illuminating. It can draw on personal or public experiences, thoughts, and opinions. Regardless of origin, it takes its muse and twists it into some positive action. It can be uplifting or simply arouse thought. Whatever the case, the reader comes away with something of his or her own without the author having imposed himself or herself, potentially overshadowing the greater message.
What is the greater message behind a Facebook post from an angry newly-single declaring that all men are pigs or all women are sluts? A tweet declaring the poor driving abilities of the Dodge Ram someone’s stuck driving behind? A Tumblr post publicizing how much homework sucks? While many of us can relate to these feelings, they’re all ultimately the same thing: no more than trivial human grievances. We write them and “like” them so that we may content ourselves in having done something, anything, to weigh in on an unfavorable situation.
It’s called purging, and it’s lazy. These sort of ranting and relieving snippets of writing (I’m probably more guilty of this than just about anyone, by the way) belong in diaries and other private places. What can you say that isn’t beyond tired and overdone about Pennsylvania’s bad roads or your two-timing ex-lovers? They can be hard questions to answer, but if you can’t answer them, someone else has. Or at the very least, they’ve already come out and mentioned their existence. And any one of us writing, blogging, Facebooking, etc. about them is doing little more than giving us a literary forum in which to raise our hands and say “me too.”
Not everything said, felt, or written has to be done with the motive of changing the world. If we’re not adding to the human experience in some way, maybe we should all keep our purging private, and try to filter our experiences to generate more “aha”s. We’ve all got something to give, but few of our lives warrant their own public diaries.
Sarah Eckrich is a sophomore majoring in English Writing with a minor in Environmental Studies. She can be contacted at email@example.com.