By Angeline Wang, 17, Beverly Hills HS
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It’s the first thing I check when I get home from school and the last thing I check before I go to bed. It’s what I spend at least two hours on every day, usually more on the weekends. I think about it constantly, wondering what I can add to it that day. In fact, as I write this article, my right hand is inching the mouse toward the Internet Explorer icon which opens directly onto this new obsession of mine: my LiveJournal.

It started out innocently enough. I looked at some pictures my friend had posted on her LiveJournal, a kind of online diary, pictures of a volunteering project we had gone to together. And just like that, I found myself in a whole new world, one with pictures and words and links upon links, one with its own special language replete with emoticons, one where geography and national borders are not obstacles for making friends. I was hooked. is a pretty widespread Internet "blogging" community, currently with more than 5 million users. (It’s not the only community though—, and are a few others.) Journal entries can be added to these "blogs" (which is short for weblogs) every day by users and any interested person can read the posts and comment.

I "lurked" on for months, reading friends’ journals, finding journals or "communities" (groups of people with a shared interest) about particular topics, like Harry Potter. As my daily reading material increased, I realized that each LiveJournal is as unique as the person writing it. One may rant and rave about the hassles of daily life, teachers, grades or college applications, another may include political commentary, and another could be nothing but art. When I decided to start my own LiveJournal, one of the things I had to figure out was what kind of journal it would be.

That post blew me away

Early in August, I came across a very important post. A LiveJournal user, "Misia," wrote about sexual violence and how people never talk about it.
She courageously declared, "I’m a survivor of sexual violence. No Pity. No Shame. No Silence." In less than 24 hours, more than 1,000 comments were made in response to this journal entry, some of which were from other victims of sexual violence speaking out. This was such a surprising and powerful post. I had never really thought about sexual violence before and it opened my eyes to how widespread it is.

During the next few days, I saw discussion all around about this post and literally hundreds of people linking their journals to it. No other medium of communication can get to this number of people this quickly, with the topic completely uncensored, unlike in the media. This post helped me decide what kind of journal I would create for myself. I believe is most effective when it spreads information. As Misia said, "The more we share, the stronger we grow."

On August 18, a momentous event occurred, one that would change how I spent my free time. I started my own LiveJournal. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy (and free) it was—choose a username and password and enter an e-mail address, and voila!

I think choosing my username took the longest. (I’ve never been good at thinking of screen names.) In the end, I chose the name "Polykleitos," the name of an important sculptor from ancient Greece. I learned about him during the summer and liked the artwork he had created.

I read the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) to learn the basics, and almost right away, I "friended" the journals of everyone I had been keeping track of before, including Harry Potter fans and school friends. When you friend someone, their journal updates appear on your "Friends" page. Then I joined a few friending communities to find other friends who have interests similar to mine. The coolest part was when they started friending me back.

Making cyber friends

From that first LiveJournal post on August 18 to now, I have made more than 100 friends, most of whom are people I have never met and who have different interests. One of my LiveJournal friends is into Star Wars and Final Fantasy. Another is an amazingly smart college student majoring in neuroscience and taking an insane number of classes. I even met a Swedish girl with my name!

There is a slight anonymity on that I find refreshing. In some ways, it is easier to communicate with other people if they can’t judge you by your appearance or age. I have had interesting conversations (many of which are political) with adults who probably wouldn’t have taken me seriously if they knew I was a teenager.

What should I write about?

Unlike some of my LiveJournal friends, I don’t use my journal as a diary. Of course, sometimes I do post momentous things that happen in my life, like college decisions and such, but normally I like to post anything that I hear or find interesting. I told myself when I started my LJ that I would post in it every day. When I notice something I might want to include on my LiveJournal, I’ll jot a note about it in my agenda book to make sure that I’ll remember the idea later. It forces me to pay attention to what is going on around me, remember the funny jokes my friends tell during the day, quote the teachers who say inspirational things, and know the current events in the world.

Maybe years from now, looking back at my LiveJournal, I can say how naïve I was about politics when I was a teen. It’s a way to keep myself in check, to know that my opinions change and that I can never be too sure or too stubborn about anything.

And sometimes I just post silly things that I think might get more comments, like asking whether people prefer Pepsi or Coke. Coming home from school and seeing a lot of LiveJournal comments puts a smile on my face. Sometimes, at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, I will literally sit next to my computer waiting for comments to come in. And, with friends all around the world and in different time zones, I usually get them.

Speaking of comments, I should go online now and check to see if I’ve gotten any new ones… And maybe I’ll post something too … ^__^