The other night, I decided to listen to two of my favorite albums by Fiona Apple. She was one of my favorite musicians throughout my teenage years. Her turns of phrase, melodies and contralto composed a soundtrack to my development into adulthood – the arrogance of adolescence, the catapult of indignation, the soap-boxing, and that threatening but necessary lurch into realizing you fight for independence only to find you’re not quite sure what to do with it. Listening to the songs I loved tremendously – still do – brought back all those emotions and ideas that permeated my thought-processes from ages 12 to 20.
I’ve been keeping blogs for more than 10 years. Looking back, I want to hit myself sometimes, realizing my ideals, my half-formed concepts, my passions and my pains have been posted publicly in a place that doesn’t really have an erase-all option. Even if I went back in, deleting where I could, Google’s got some unforgiving caches, and in the arena of wish-I-hadn’t-said-that, I’m pretty screwed.
My generation, and the ones following us, have this to worry about. My parents might’ve had some wild ideas in the ’60s and ’70s, and a few regrettable Letters to the Editor might be located if one were to dig. The fact remains, however, that the witnesses to those developmental years of paranoia, self-importance, confusion, rationalization and opinion-forming are generally human, anecdotal, and aging. I don’t mean to pick on my parents specifically. Both of them may read this and send me indignant e-mails expressing their certainty that they never had bullshit theories or ideals that would come back to haunt them if they’d been armed with a blog address and an internet connection. I already know they did – they named my brothers after characters in epic sagas of idealistic political philosophy. It’s okay.
The fact remains that young people today are growing up in a world where, by the time they’ve hit college, they’ve already been exposed to political opinions and social ideals that may run contrary to their own. Chances are, through Facebook, message boards, Twitter, or a blog platform, they’ve already had a few things to say right back. They aren’t just reading the newspaper and crafting a carefully worded Letter To The Editor – which may or may not be published. They’re capable of quick-posting everything from “First comment!” to “[the writer] is an [inflammatory remark]!” to “the media is biased!” to “legalize weed” or, well, anything.
I’m not saying that isn’t awesome sometimes. There’s not much that is more satisfying than seeing an intelligent 16-year-old lay down the facts on some idiot online, by giving a well-reasoned reply to a inflammatory comment. But it’s still tough when I see my own commentary from age 15 regarding [insert pretty much ANY political issue here]. Though I’m happy to report I was generally using correct spelling, grammar and a thesaurus, I was also full of a whole lot of bullshit. Not to say I’m completely clean-and-sober of the bullshit now – I just try to cut out the logical fallacies, mass generalizations, and character attacks I used back then.
But, here I am, 23 years old, and thus far reasonably unscathed by the very public and sometimes obnoxious diatribes of my less humble youth. Although, it’d be interesting to run for President some day and see how much of it comes back to haunt me.
Over the past few years, this realization has made me a less active blogger. My 12- to 20-year-old self had a lot of dramatic ideas, especially philosophies of the religious, romantic, and political kind. Heck, I wrote a lot of bad poetry that is still lingering around on the Internet.
I’ve become convinced that no matter how thoughtful I attempt to be in my writing, I’m going to look back at it in five years and think, “Who gave that girl a blog?”
Despite my self-doubt, I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on me, and where I am in the world now. If I were to compose a letter to my fourteen year old self (which I’m certain 14-year-old me would scoff at and ignore), it’d warn firstly that I will encounter love, loss, heartbreak and lies between then and now. Secondly, that nothing can indicate exactly what my response to these events will be, just to maybe save my most passionate reactions for the paper-journal, not the digital one. And thirdly, it’d remind me that I am small, the world is big, and the world revolves around this thing called the sun, not myself nor my generation. There’s a lot of notes I’d leave myself. And 10 years from now I’ll be telling my 23 year old self the same thing differently.
But here goes.