IF you know for sure your boyfriend is going to get himself elected US President – or your girlfriend, as I'm sure the words Madam President will come to be spoken – then by all means write it down in a daily diary and hope that one day someone will want to read it, publish it, even give you a little money for it.
If, however, you and your beau are of the common or garden variety then, may I ask, what in the world are you thinking?
Vanity Fair has published an extract from a new book about Barack Obama. It's called Young Barack Obama in Love: A Girlfriend's Secret Diary and it is horrendous.
I hate anything involving diaries, love and youth. Pepys, that's fine; there's enough plague and bringing out the dead in there to temper any level of pretension. John Adams and Lewis Carroll, they're alright. Anne Frank is forgiveable. You or I, though, shouldn't be allowed.
I looked out one of my old diaries to try to pick out an illustrative line. They were so cringeingly awful my entire body collapsed in on itself to become nothing but a burning hot black hole of shame, angst and laboured simile. I suppose it helps when you've written about a boy who goes on to be President but still, the future generally errs on the side of fairly unpredictable, so while you're writing the damn thing you're probably just pouring your self-conscious heart out any old which way. It's rarely pretty.
The late teens and early twenties, when Obama's ex, Genevieve Cook, penned her love diaries, are the worst time for cloying, pretentious prose. Quoth Genevieve: "What a startling person Barack is – so strange to voice intimations of my own perceptions – have them heard, responded to so on the sleeve." I think she's saying they've got a bit in common.
I am also suspicious of anyone with the time and the self discipline to write a diary. Have they nothing better to do? Genevieve again: "On Sunday Barack and I raced, and I won." Maybe not. And also, and this is a thing worse than death, what if your mother reads them? Horror.
The whole point of diaries is that they're supposed to be private; at least you can burn them, which I heartily recommend.
Blogs are a modern problem. They take all the cathartic labours of a diary, all the unholy combination of self-pity, self-importance, naivety and angst, and publish them on the internet for all the world to mock at. There rarely are diamonds among coal with diaries or in the blogosphere, such as Genevieve's fine work, but such intimate portraits of our great and good will surely become rarer in the electronic age. It probably won't matter: we will as like just cobble together revelations from folks' Twitter feeds and Facebook updates. "Raced B. Won. LOL."
It's the one and only time I'll countenance the death of the written word over electronica. Put down the pen. Step away.
I WROTE a wee while ago about organ donation and presumed consent. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and ruler of the free social media world, must have read it because this week it was announced Facebook is allowing members to use their pages to register as organ donors. In the first day it signed up tens of thousands of new donors.
Anything that helps promote the importance of organ donation is a Good Thing. However, how does Facebook plan to make sure the people signing up are fully informed of what they're signing up to? After all, this is the place where more than one million people joined the group I Want To Punch Slow Walking People In The Back Of The Head while more than two million joined My Sister Said If I Get One Million Fans She Will Name Her Baby Megatron.
While I welcome the debate I hope someone's assigned to oversee the forum.
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