On Doogie Howser and Writing Things Down
The contemporary trend of writing down one’s musings via social media is a concept I’ve struggled with over the last few years. Whatever the medium of choice, be it blogging, twittering, or posting, I came to the conclusion that to carry out such activity must require a level of conviction in ones own self-importance that I seem not to possess and to date have had no interest in acquiring. To have the inherent belief that your fellow citizens simply must hear your views and opinions on a series of random and often meaningless events, to me, has always smacked of self-indulgence and dare I say narcissism. To communicate to the world what you had for breakfast or who you think should win BGT, #whogivesashit indeed.
The basis for my, no doubt, outdated view of modern-day social proceedings, is set from the wobbling jelly of my own irrationality, and more ridiculously, on the exploits of two goliaths of TV: Doogie Howser and (cough, cough) Sarah Jessica Parker.
Back in the late 80s, Doogie Howser was a kid on US TV who after a particularly taxing day saving lives as the country’s youngest surgeon (when all he really wanted to be doing was riding his chopper and looking up girls’ skirts) would type up what he had learned of his daily exploits into his journal on his little computer. I say little computer, it was actually massive and couldn’t do anything; you couldn’t swipe it, speak to it, or look at things you shouldn’t on it, but in many ways it was the best computer ever. I longed to have a computer like that so I could do exactly the same as Doogie. I couldn’t do this with pen and paper obviously, it had to be a computer with a fuzzy green screen. If only I had a computer, I would reflect, I could diarize my entire day in a witty and fulfilling manner, recording all my erroneous life choices, learn from them and use this knowledge to go on to be a better man for the benefit of myself, my family and humanity. I was about 10.
I held this nostalgic and romanticized view of journal writing quite happily for many years until Sex & The City came along and destroyed it.
Committed viewers of Sex & The City would see both the best and the worst of the programme in the last two minutes of each episode. Best, because it was actually nearly over, and worst because it was the bit that SJP’s character would begin to recount the dull and indulgent (s)exploits of herself and her irritating friends in the most egotistical and conceited manner possible, purely for the consumption of the kind of ladies who put their dog in their handbag and wear shoes with letters on them.
Sadly, and to my own detriment, I let this fester away at me for too long, and the uplifting memories of Doogie and his computerised journal were killed off by a Blue Screen of Death episode inflicted by the SJP virus. Such unpleasantness led me to arrive at the view that one should really keep schtum about matters of the heart and not rush to share the inner workings of the mind and body for every Tom, Dick, or Harriette.
Thankfully, and after much internal admonishment I’ve realised that times do change and writing down one’s musings doesn’t always have to be for self-centered and indulgent purposes so wonderfully exposed by SJP and her coven. So now I’ve taken to writing things down again. While not exactly following the example set by the renowned diarizers of the past: Pepys, Crusoe, or Mole, readers can at least take comfort that thou shall not burden thee in recounting drivel that is of no interest to either of us. It will be drivel, don’t get me wrong, but it will be running related drivel.