For those in the know: Yes, this was exacerbated by making an ass of myself today, but there is no causal relationship...these musings predate that issue.
I have a variety of different groups of friends and associates scattered across the globe. Most of them do not read my live journal. Most of them would be confused if I told them it exists. Given that, it is tempting to use this as a real journal, where I lay down deep and personal thoughts, joys, and concerns about the people who I care most about and the things that matter most in my actual life. Unfortunately, it is a public forum, and what's more will sit on record indefinitely. Some things would not be publicly acceptable even after an elapsed statute of limitations of like 10 years.
One solution, obviously, is to simply make the entries of that form protected or private, but this raises two concerns. On the one hand, I do not have ultimate control over the low level handling of this data, and as much as I may trust Brad (and I do), it would be unsafe to post the most personal of personal data ANYWHERE outside my immediate domain. (Some things are so taboo it would be dangerous to write them in a paper diary in code using a one-time sheet and invisible ink, much less dump them onto a server on the other side of the nation.) That is a fairly extreme case, however, and may be safely excluded for the primary considerations at play here. The second point is more salient. I could limit my posts of a personal nature to be viewed by my friends, and then be heavy handed about who makes that particular cut. But even if that were reasonable (if for example I could establish separate lists of 'associates' whose pages I want to read and 'friends' who get special priveledges should they choose to read mine) it would really still be missing the point. I really would like to have an indefinitely large audience of people to see my journal and comment on my life and support me in my emotional/intellectual battles both external and internal.
Now you may be thinking that an obvious solution would be to create a completely anonymous journal with a fictional id or something and use that as a forum for this kind of extraspection (is that a word? eh...). Again, though, that presents problems. I abhor anonymity in matters of substance. I am a firm believer in owning your own ideas and taking responsibility for your actions mental, digital, physical, or otherwise. I would feel shallow and empty about any empathy/advice/support/criticism I got through an anonymous interaction, really.
I guess fundamentally these are not concerns specific to journals. This is really a broader issue of privacy vs. community and anonymity vs. social risk taking. Scary stuff really. I guess the only conclusion I can draw is that solid relationships between people that involve complete disclosure and acceptance towards the ends of mutual understanding and complete trust are so incredibly valuable, especially now when it is so easy to be heard, and so difficult to be heard correctly...
Not a proposal or a rant, just honest musings about life 'on the screen'