by Mộc Miên
Long before the invasion of the internet that has brought along social networks and online forums to Việt Nam, many people used to write diaries as a way of expressing thoughts and emotions.
I used to think about a person who sits silently by his desk late at night, writing dedicatedly in a nice small notebook.
“I wrote in a diary a lot when I was young. That was the time I had so much emotions that could not be shared with others. The diary was my dear friend,” Nguyễn Thu Trang, 27, said.
“My diary was often kept in a locked drawer. I was afraid that someone would read all my innermost thoughts. It might have been embarrassing,” Trang said, laughing.
However, the fever of the internet and social networks has resulted in dramatic changes in the diary writing habits of young people. In fact, it has now been replaced with a new style of diary writing, more adapted to advanced technologies.
“Now people don’t call it writing a diary. It has become ’writing a blog’, ’posting a status’," Hoàng Anh Tuấn, an IT engineer, said.
And, in fact, looking at online forums of those who share interests or hobbies, can find titles like “My thoughts today”, “What is left today?”.
The existence of Yahoo 360o in Việt Nam over the past decade has generated a remarkable change in the writing habits of Vietnamese young people. Writing blogs has become a new trend, gradually replacing traditional diary writing. Applications on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and other social networks have provided users with visual and sound effects.
I remember when I was small, my mother wanted me to develop language ability and self-reflection skills so she encouraged me to write diary. She said that diary was personal but she still tried to read it behind my back just to get to know about her daughter. One day, when she found that I just wrote down a single sentence: “Nothing happened today!”, she could not help asking me why. I was so angry that I never wrote in the notebook again.
However, nowadays we all seem to welcome acquaintances and even strangers who access our online writings.
“I am not ashamed to write my personal stories in detail on online sites. They can be happy or even sad things in my life that I am very proud if someone can share with me,” Trần Thu Hằng, 25, said.
It goes against the nature of diary writing in the past, which used to be personal and confidential.
“I think diary writing goes far beyond the concept of ’writing in a private notebook’. A single status, a picture with a caption, a quick note can be seen today as a type of diary,” Tuấn said.
Facebook, one of the most popular online social networks in Việt Nam, has long created a “see your memories” function, which allows users to review all their posts since their start on Facebook.
“When looking through what I have posted in the past years, it seems like I am turning out diary pages more connected to the community rather than to myself,” Trang said.
Nonetheless, there are those who write a lot but keep the material to themselves, in private mode. It depends on the scope of one’s comfort zone, which decides how accessible you are to other people. Some don’t want those who know little about them to evaluate them based on a random piece of writing.
A diary is forever personal and sacred. I believe that the number of people who expose their online writings is no larger than the number of those who opt for private mode. Maybe people are too lazy to write by hand, but the computer cannot change the fact that opening up one’s deepest thoughts and emotions requires a lot of trust. VNS