I can't decide if this idea is brilliant or terrible, but it'd make a great basis for a thesis paper...
I was over at deviantART surfing for artistic inspiration (and finding it, and wondering why I don't draw every minute of my waking life) when I came across this, a project called Shout it Out!
It's all about writing down on paper the things you don't usually say about yourself - the good, the bad, the quirky - the things that you keep hidden for fear that people will judge you poorly, look at you differently, or ignore what you have to say. It's the chance to shout out who you are as a person, proudly and without fear. Because it's a deviantART project, and because deviantART is geared towards artists, the Shouts are all heavily influenced with each person's own artistic style.
The artist who started it says this:
"Someone told me once, that she believed we make life hard for ourselves by keeping things bottled up inside. Whether it be due to shame, embarrassment, fear, pride or some other emotion we don't share the things that are on our hearts like we should. We wallow in them and never realize that everyone else feels the same way. Our conflicts, our dreams, and the things that make us who we are should be free to be spoken out loud."
When I first found out about this, I loved it. It seems like much of the conflict we have as people stems from a lack of understanding, the not wanting/not trying to get to know each other for who we really are. The more you know a person, I am convinced, the more you will be sympathetic to their point of view, even if you don't agree with it. You will be more likely to compromise, or at least stand your ground with kindness, less likely to hate. I believe that communication without competitiveness is a powerful tool. Knowledge to understanding, understanding to love. It was one of my reasons for beginning to blog, and I wrote about it in my first post.
But as I read through some individual Shouts, I began to have doubts. Many of the artists on this site are teens and college age, lots of angst and emo, and no shortage of frustrated sexuality. People seem drawn to revealing their brokenness, their struggles with depression, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts. There were too many of these in the few samples I read, and I wondered, is it more common to find these dark thoughts in artists? Is it because of their age? Is the next generation struggling more than my own?
Other Shouts were bursting with angry thoughts. The freedom opened floodgates for the type of hate and stereotyping normally held back by our PC culture. One person admitted to being fascinated with Nazism. Another mentioned that they partly enjoyed causing people pain. Reading through these made me increasingly gloomy. True glimpses into the thoughts of others, and yet so much darkness to be seen, so much anger.
And so I wonder... is the Shout it Out! project a good thing? Does revealing yourself free you, or does it make you turn your focus inward too much? If your hidden thoughts include hate, is there anything to be gained by revealing them to people who do not know you, who never will? At that point, the thought becomes stronger than the invisible internet person, and my idea of knowledge leading to love requires a living, breathing person. A person can change, can be reasoned with, but an isolated thought is immutable. It can be ignored or rejected but never killed, and in repetition without argument only gains strength.
Which leads me to think that Shouting it Out best serves a purpose only among people who know you, a tool to help people better understand you. But if you knew who was to see it, would you be honest? Would you expose your deepest self? Wouldn't you still hold back, defeating the whole point?
I'm torn. I can't decide. If you guys have any thoughts, please weigh in.