Monday, August 9, 2010

Who's reading your diary?

by Brittany Geragotelis

I saw this in my google news alerts. It's about an author who gathered together all of a certain relative's diaries recounting his time in the war and created a book about it. This got me thinking...Did this man write these diaries with the intention of them being read? Or were these like most diaries, where he would have died if the secrets he'd written down were revealed to the public.

Isn't that the point of a diary? It's a place where you can unload your un-edited, most personal thoughts, without fear of others judging you? Is his ghost freaking out right now or was he writing those diaries with the intention of someone finding and reading them? I mean, I still have the diary I wrote in periodically since middle school, and I would be horrified if someone read it, let alone published it for the whole world to see. But maybe this soldier's diary wasn't the same type as mine. It is possible he didn't write about his crushes, his rejections, his most embarrassing moments. He might've just stuck to the facts of the war, and treated it as a historical diary.

But I have to admit...I'm intrigued at the prospect of reading someone else's diary. It's that whole voyeuristic thing our society's got going on...the reason that smutty magazines and websites like Star, In Touch and Perez are so popular. We love to know the personal stuff that we're not supposed to.

So, what's the right thing to do in a situation like this? Is it okay to make public something that is supposed to have a reasonable expectation of privacy? Or should the written word be open to the public in any case? And if so, how would you feel if your diary was made into a book or movie? Would you die of embarrassment or would it be a boring read? Leave your comments (or diary exerpts) below!



Michelle said...

I think it's only REALLY embarrasing if the people who read it personally know you, because they think they've influenced those thoughts somehow.

The internet has all this anomity (spelling? Much too tired.) so that when you keep things like blogs, or diaries online, the people who read it don't know you, or really 'judge' you on those things. They simply read it and go; "Oh, yes, I feel like that too sometimes."

So the moral of the story is to keep the real life diaries in a Swiss bank where no one can touch them, and the online diaries just sort of take care of themselves.

Soldier's diaries are invaluable to historians. Most diaries are, and they aren't picky about what they get. First hand accounts are extremely coveted in the historical world, and if genuine are really the only true 'facts' we have about history.

Kate said...

My grandparents met on an army base during WWII and married. Granddad went to France, then Germany while my grandmother stayed in the States. They wrote letters back and forth, which I still believe are in the attic of the house my dad, aunt and uncle grew up in. I think everyone would love to read them, but Granddad asked that they be burned because they were private and belonged only to the two of them. I don't think he got rid of any of them when she died--I don't know. But despite my curiosity about their relationship and intimacy--especially during a war and time I cannot imagine--I feel protective of their wishes to let their secret words vanish into the universe. I never knew my grandmother, who I supposedly resemble in countenance and character, and I was very close to Granddad, one of the loves of my life and a great man of warmth and forgiveness. That's perhaps what makes me comply with his request--that he so humbly allowed all of his family to do just as they wanted to do in their lives.