Not long ago, I began reading The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had by Susan Wise Bauer. In the first chapter of the book, she discusses the importance of keeping a record of self-education- of writing down important ideas, truths, thoughts, or anything else that the self-educating person may want to remember.
She calls this record a “Journal of Self-Education,” and she compares it to something called a “Common-Place Book,” which was a 19th and 20th century “...loose-leaf or bound blank book in which readers copied down quotes and snippets that they wanted to remember.” I want to start doing that with what I am reading. I think that is a great idea.
But, since reading that, I have thought about how this blog is in someways a 21st Century American version of the olden time Common-Place book. It is a place that I post quotes, ideas, truths, thoughts, songs, sermons, sermon-jams, epiphanies, links, and other forms of mental fodder that I want to remember. And upon further reflection, I realized that all of my social media accounts serve the same purpose – at least to some degree.
Naturally, I don’t think about emails, texts, Facebook messages, tweets, and blogs as a virtual journal of sorts. However, taken together, they form a relatively accurate record of my life; they may even reflect what I care about more accurately than my journal does. At the very least, they reflect what I functionally care about and what I actually spend my time thinking about.
It follows then that if I want to get an honest look at what matters to me, who matters to me, and what I really believe- (not just what I tell myself that I believe) – I can review my social media accounts. And, although I never intended to use social media or my blog as a “Journal of Self-Education”- in so doing- I might just find that I get quite an education about myself.
I suppose that could be true for all of us.
†Bauer, S. Wise, The Well- Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, INC., 2003. p. 35.