Samara O'Shea

The Facebook Journal

I had a wonderful radio interview last weekend with Kathleen Adams. She’s a pioneer in the world of journaling having written Journal to the Self and Scribing the Soul: Essays in Journal Therapy amongst others. It was an honor to speak with her (as I’ve used her books as a guide for my own), and we had a lot of fun during our hour together. The good news is you didn’t miss the interview! It will air on November 6th at 5 p.m. (EST) on Exceptional Wisdom Radio.

At the end of every interview Kathleen (Kay as she prefers) asks her interviewee for a “Pen Tip,” in other words a journal-writing technique. I told her about one that I’ve been toying with lately. The source of the technique is a little strange. It’s inspired by Facebook.

For those of you not familiar with Facebook there is a featured called “Status Update.” This is when you literally fill in the blank as to how you’re feeling—or how you want your friends to think you’re feeling because it becomes public once you type. It can be as profound or mundane as, well, your feelings. Some examples:

– Joe Schmoe is disappointed with the Dodgers
– Anne Clark just finished the bar exam!
– Jake Paine is falling in love
– Lisa DiCostanzo hates the new 90210
– Katie Tally thinks now is a good time

You get the idea. For no good reason one day I felt compelled to write a list of Facebook-style status updates in my journal.

– Samara O’Shea is dancing in the dark
– Samara O’Shea believes in fairies
– Samara O’Shea wonders why she is waiting by the phone
– Samara O’Shea is ready to spit nails

Of course in my journal they were much more personal and arguably strange. What surprised me was each time that I wrote one status update another would come to me—and another and another. I was literally letting myself in on how I was feeling. Third person writing does this. It invites you to step back and look into your life from the outside in rather than first-person writing which looks from the inside out. They are both beneficial, but it’s been a while since I’ve done any third person writing so I found this to be an especially helpful exercise.