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Mark Twain

Mark Twain

Running clears my head and is one of the activities during which many ideas come to mind. As I was running today I was thinking about Mark Twain and social media.

Mark Twain once wrote that if you want to drive a young man insane, have him keep a journal for a year. When I was 21 I tried and I faltered, but before that I was going mad trying to come up with things to write about. A journal is a private thing and perhaps this was my issue, perhaps it’s a man thing or perhaps even human, but knowing that no one should really be reading your journal while you live, you try to write meaningful things that might say something positive to your children or grandchildren when you’re no longer around. Of course this doesn’t have to be the case, but so it was with me and I think many others.

Then blogs and Facebook came along and we’ve all started keeping a journal. Many of us make entries more than once a day. From how we’re feeling, to what we’re reading, to well thought out observations and arguments. But it’s all there and being stored somewhere. Why are we writing more than ever before? Surely we do not possess a broader vocabulary than our parents, nor are we more refined masters of grammar. Do we have more opinions and observations than past generations? There may be some arguments for this, but I have another hypothesis.

We write more today than ever before because we have an audience. Writing in your journal for future generations is completely different from writing for a potential public of a billion people. Now there may be a great many other observations, such as the idea that we write things that we used to tell people when we used to speak to our friends and family in person and not just digitally. I, however, believe that it all comes back to the Aristotelean idea of humans being social creatures. The internet is just society when we want it, but it is social. That said, I think humans are performers. Much of what we do, we do for others, especially when there is recognition.

So there we have it, that’s what I was thinking about while running today. I think that this post proves at least for myself, that my theory has some validity.

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