A survey thing from my friends and their friends:How did you come to start your LJ?
I remember it bizarrely well for something that happened so long ago. My friend Tess and I (was she called Tess yet then? okay so I don’t remember this part, but I think so) were waiting to watch the Parliamentary Debate round at a college speech tournament. We were there to see a high-school friend of mine who was in this category.
I was moping about how I never wrote anything any more, after having both time and inclination to write cute little essays in my spare time as a teenager -- think of something with the useful content of your usual LJ entry (the one I remember best was called “Evil Salad Dressing”) and the fun of a school essay (the Evil Salad Dressing story had a moral
), and she said, “I’ll give you a code for LiveJournal,” because that was back when you needed an invite code (ah, those halcyon days! and then how upset people weree when they got rid of the codes and we figured LJ would buckle under the strain of the illiterate self-centered boring emo influx, remember that?).
And so I nodded and said “yeah, okay” as if I knew what I was talking about, as if I’d ever heard of LiveJournal.
The first entry I ever wrote, on my roommate’s computer because I didn’t have my own then, was about how I’d just confessed to my boyfriend that I didn’t want to go out any more and to one of my best friends, one of those people you’ve been not-dating for years and years, making a point of it because everybody’s telling you both that you should but you don’t listen because you think they’re just pea-brained high-schoolers who can’t fathom being friends with someone of the opposite sex (remember those days when I used to think like that? I just had to delete “people of opposing genders being friends” because it’s such an anachronism for the time period I’m talking about here; these are not people who expected there to be more than two genders or anyone who lusted after someone of their own gender).
So I came to start my LJ when I also started being in love for the first time. There are worse beginnings.How did you find your first friends?
Well I had Tess, who was now soltice
. I found out that my friend Darren had already started an LJ a few months before, and somehow because of my evangelistic obsession and of course the fine example of my actual LJ, most of my real-life friends started one, though most didn’t stick with it for long.
One of the first “people I didn’t know already” who added me was then-tjej
, who talked about bassoons with me. Thanks to her miss_newham
(who then had the Icelandic username) added me and thanks to her I have almost all the friends I made in London. Then a couple of years later when I was in Manchester and had no friends and whined about this on LJ, irrtum
invited me along to the Cornerhouse quiz because I had lots of mutual friends in common with her, also thanks to tjej who’d been a friend of hers for years and years. It’s only because of tjej and theladiesloos
that I have any friends in the UK at all, honestly.Are those first friends still on your FL?
Like I said a lot of my actual friends didn’t stick with LJ long, though most are still on my list. I was a bit sad when tjej took me off her friends list last year, though I acknowledged that that was a bit silly as we never talked that much and it was probably just for historical reasons that I had any reason to be disappointed, though I do like her or at least did when I last saw her but that was about four years ago, thus proving my point about how it’s not unreasonable for her to delete me from her list. miss_newham
‘s still making me smile whenever she writes almost anything. Looking over the actual friends-list now, I see no one else who, in my experience, has been such a stalwart LJer for anything like as long.How long have you been on LJ?
I started in October 2002. That’s SIX AND A HALF YEARS. It is by far the longest time I’ve done anything, other than things like “breathing” or “liking cheese.”Do you have more friends or communities on your FL?
Way more friends. Communities used to be more important to me, and right now I’m sort of missing theladiesloos
, but I don’t find them as exciting as I used to when I was looking for new friends and, I dunno, actually interested in things. Now I have no attention span for anything unless I like the person who’s telling me about it. Do you do a lot of friends cuts?
I never do the kind of dramatic “I’m doing a big friends cut!” thing, mostly because I’m not organized enough with my approach to LJ. I’ll just suddenly decide “I have too many friends!” and pare off three or four (usually adding back another five or six I’ve taken off my list during previous attacks of this same whim but who have kept me as a friend so they still show up on my list). They rarely notice... though I did have a weird period where a couple of people left dismissive comments on my LJ (“sorry for whatever, have a nice life”) that totally baffled me until I realized that some kind of LJ glitch was telling people I’d taken them off my friends list when I hadn’t.What do you like in an LJ friend?
Good spelling and punctuation. Sorry, I’m a slave to grammar. Actually I’ve no need to apologize to you lot because you have it. It warms my heart that these are not really lost arts in the way some grumpy people would have you believe.
I like people who are not afraid of the little details in their life; there are good ways to tell me about your work or something your kid has done or whatever it is that’s happened to you today, and a lot of you find that a lot of the time. Vivid little peeks into worlds so different from my own, I love that. I also have a well-established weakness for anybody who’s willing to be dorkishly excited about anything, whose enthusiasm for some topic means it wouldn’t even occur to them to be self-conscious about sharing it.What do you dislike?
Some of what I think of as internet slang is really starting to rub me the wrong way (random things: “om nom nom,” “FTW,” I don’t know why) and some people who talk in fandom-related gibberish really leaves me cold because I probably haven’t seen or read it (but especially seen) whatever the hell you’re talking about and so the clever allusions go right over my head. And of course I don’t like people who are stupid or mean. But obviously if you’re reading this I like you though so don’t worry.What would make you un-friend someone immediately?
Ha, I actually did this a couple of days ago. Our LJ friendship exists on a weird sawtooth curve where I get annoyed with something he says, decide I can’t look at any of his words ever again, and then after a while of that I forget what I was so upset about and look he’s left a nice comment to something I said, I’ll put him back. The thing that made me immediately unfriend him I don’t remember, but it was something about politics... I genuinely don’t mind people who disagree with me (my family gave me lots of practice at this), but to take something so badly out of context for no reason I can see other than willful ignorance or a desire to feel sarcastically superior, in that case it doesn’t matter if we agree or not; I still don’t want to hear about it.Have you been caught up in a lot of LJ drama?
It doesn’t feel like it. I’m not generally a dramatic person and they don’t flock to me.
I think the closest I came was a real-life bit of drama precipitated by LJ; once I had a pretty good friend who seemed to think I was her sidekick and when I started making proper friends on the internet and things got a bit salacious on my LJ for a while, she did her best to butt in and show the men who liked me that she was actually the fantastically interesting one. They mostly saw through her and continued talking to me because they thought I was clever and funny, and while my friend could be clever and funny too she rarely wasted these traits on guys she wanted to like her, because she never had to try that hard to get what she wanted from them. We quietly disliked all each other’s boyfriends so when she started saying bad things about the likes of Andrew, Dave (who I’ll see on Friday!) and Peter (who I hope to visit soon! five years late but who’s counting?) I knew they must be keepers.Do RL friends and family members know you have a journal on LJ?
Most of my RL friends have an LJ, or had. Very few wouldn’t know that I have one.
My family? Oh lord. I thank my lucky stars that my parents can barely check their e-mail. I am not the person my family thinks I am but I don’t want them to know that.Do you also have Facebook and if so, what do you prefer – LJ or FB?
I had Facebook for a while, because all those friends who aren’t on LJ any more told me they’d talk to me more if I joined. I found it singularly unsatisfying: they didn’t talk much, and even I squirmed at such pointless carelessness with personal details. Plus people from work found it and it was all a bit useless and stupid, so I deleted it.
And I’m still here on LJ. It has its peaks and troughs but I always love it.What about Twitter?
I resisted Twitter for ages, and there are lots of things I don’t like about it, such as the fact that I’m supposed to call its messages “tweets” and the process of making them “tweeting,” which I flat-out refuse to do. I’m sure no one else notices but I have taken a stand on this. There’s also the way that lists of people’s messages end up just like being in a room with someone who’s on the phone and only hearing their half of the conversation. I do my best to make my contributions interesting even if they do have someone else’s name at the beginning.
One of the best things about Twitter is that it’s allowed me to talk to a couple of my friends a lot more than I would otherwise, and to make friends with one of their friends solely based on it.
And hey, Buddhists say Twitter makes people happy
. They seem like people who know about happiness.Do you blog on any other sites?
I have a wordpress blog but it’s pretty dormant now. Keeping up here is more than enough for me.How often do you check in on LJ?
Whenever I have nothing else to do and an internet connection. It’s worth having my LJ just to read all of yours.What do you rarely or never post about?
God I talk about everything. My mental ill-health, the most unseemly parts of my character, sex... I always used to worry that I talk too much. And yet everyone has things they don’t talk about, so I’m sure I can think of some.
What else? I’m actually really crap at most kinds of sensible updates on things that are going on my life: I’m moving next Saturday, I have friends from the US visiting most of the time between now and then, that I’m finally trying to get referred for counselling, and it’s entirely possible for some of my close friends not to know about this because I don’t talk about that here, shunning it in favor of talking about football and my first nosebleed and stuff like that.
I fell in love in August and it turned ugly in September and I haven’t been able to talk about that. I haven’t been able to talk about much else in that time either. I mention this now because I hope that is finally improving.Why don’t you post about that?
I don’t talk about my job partly because I’m very aware of patient confidentiality, but also because usually by the time I get home it’s the last thing I want to think about. It has its anecdotable moments and some of those do work their way into my entries (Andrew’s been known to ask me, when I say something about what someone said or did at work, whether it was a staff or a patient; it’s sometimes amusingly difficult to tell).
I don’t talk about What’s Actually Going On In My Life because I like to tell stories and I don’t have any good stories about finding a new flat or about the exciting NHS process of getting on a waiting list. I try to keep the to-do list aspects out of my LJ, but the problem is that I’m too successful at that and don’t have any kind of list anywhere.
To do today: make list.Have you ever thought about deleting your journal?
I did delete it for about a week a year ago, just because I was spending too much time on the internet. It was sort of reassuring, to quiet the noise in my head, but I worried a lot of my friends, got some silly, sweet e-mails from people whose first instinct -- as mine is too -- is to equate a username with a person and not want to see a line through any of my friends.
I still spend too much time on the internet. Personal drama has left me lacking energy and things to say lately so I’ve vaguely thought of deleting it again but I couldn’t leave it gone forever. As cringeworthy as the first few... years were, it’s mine and I love it.Have you ever changed your username?
As I’m sure almost all of you know, I used to be called holly_lama
. I like this name better even though even fewer people get it.Why did you choose your current username?
Because moving away from Minnesota sharpened it in my mind into something very important to me. I have to tell people I’m American but I’m not really. I’ve never been to New York or Disneyland. I’m not from America, I’m from Minnesota. I need bitterly cold winters and mosquito-filled summers or else I feel unsettled. I miss hotdish at Lutheran church potlucks and high-school sports tournaments and talk of how the soybeans are coming along and how Neil has another
new tractor. I laugh at Garrison Keillor in recognition when I think the people around me are laughing in disbelief that there could be such silly, weird things in the world and sometimes I just want to give him a hug for being able to articulate what matters to me a lot better than I can.
The other half of the name comes from bodhisattva, which is a Buddhist notion: a person who’s achieved enlightenment but put off nirvana in order to help others reach it too. I have seen the value in all these things I just mentioned and if I can do anything to make other people feel as good as this makes me, I would be happy indeed.If you’re looking for new friends, how do you find them?
I’m really not now, but I used to do it all kinds of ways. There used to be a way you could search for the people who had the most interests in common with you; I really miss that. I used to nab people I had interesting conversations with in communities or friends’ journals -- and sometimes they found me; once I hooked up with someone based on an icon I was using (the postmark one, actually; hooray for Minnesota!) in a comment to a friend. I added lots of random people (and subtracted them almost as capriciously) for years but now I’ve reached a steady state, with new friends being mostly people I’ve met or friends of theirs that I forget I haven’t yet, like alicephilippa
.Are you taking new people on to your Friends List just now?
I’d never say no but I’m really not seeking them out.Finally, tell us the reasons why you keep an online journal.
I started it to get myself writing again, and I had an audience of one for quite a while. I was more content in that than I ever would be now; now I do it largely for the interaction with my friends, some of whom I know mostly or entirely through this medium. Yet despite or because I am not paying attention to the writing, LJ has done wonders for my writing skills. I haven’t written anything else much in all this time, despite having lots of friends who were telling me for a while that I should write a book, or even just publish my LJ as one.
Most of all I do it because I have all these thoughts in my head and I am happiest when they can go somewhere.