The cool thing about the WWW is that anyone can publish stuff. But there's a dark side, too, like if pics of certain someones in certain compromising positions should fall into the wrong hands. No wait, that's still cool. Actually, I'm talking about online diaries. Whiny, pretentious, or boring -- take your pick.

Now I'm not saying that all online journals blow. Oh lordy no. Some, like the former Squishy, are actually pretty good. Pamie's funny and most likely she's a blast in person. But Squishy gets plenty of publicity, and I get none. So enough about her.

Still, I realized it wasn't fair to criticize the rest of them without offering a helping hand. I understand it's hard to keep things juicy when you're posting some meaningless detail about your life every day. So here are a few ways to turn things up a notch in your average online diary.

Make Stuff Up.
Who made the rule that everything in your journal has to be true? Not me. In fact, I frown upon it, because from what I've read, a lot of people's lives are as boring, I mean conventional, as mine. Who needs that? I'm not saying don't talk about yourself. Go right ahead. I talk about myself all the time. But I'm a bit more choosy about what I'm going to put on my website. For instance, today I read somewhere that

"X. and I moved the sofa against the wall. Everyone was happy with the new arrangement."

Now that's just plain insulting. See, it's not that I have a problem with minutiae. I really don't. I support the whole making mountains out of molehills thing. But make an effort to do something with it. Example:

"X. and I moved the sofa against the wall with the bloodstains. We think bleach and a little sulfuric acid will take care of the rest."

Suddenly, I'd like to know what's going on here, and I bet you do, too. As you can see, it's possible to keep things light and breezy by not getting into excruciating details.

I'll wager that some people feel that "lying" in their "journal" interferes with their "integrity." Well guess what? Nobody cares about you or your stupid integrity. Trust me, the made up journals (like the late Pitt Stop) get a lot more hits. And we all know that anyone who publishes content on the web craves attention. I know I do. Whatever happened to the good old days when you needed to be sneaky and unconscionable to read someone's diary? Good times.

Forget About Your Aches and Pains.
Another thing I don't understand about diarists is why they'll say stuff like, "I gardened all day yesterday and now my back is killing me!" I read crap like this and my eyelids droop with ennui. I doubt anyone cares about your sniffles or your cat's tennis elbow. I sure don't! So instead of saying,

"I caught a cold from V."


"I caught a cold from V's strapping Irish Wolfhound."

And speaking of "V.",

Who Are These People?
Online journalists invariably talk about people you don't know, and don't care about. Unless you keep it to a short cast of characters, (or throw in a drag queen or two, because drag queens are always interesting, unless you're a homophobe) and are willing to put in the time for character development, don't introduce all these people called "X.", "B. and Q.", "W.", and your boyfriend, "R." If you must refer to other wonderful people, other than as placeholders for storytelling purposes, be like Damon Runyon and use names like "Hophead Halloway", "Little Miss Marker" or "Machine-Gun Kelly." Name-dropping is perfectly acceptable (as long as you're not talking about other online diarists):

"I may have gotten VD from Brad Pitt. All I know is that I didn't have that rash before our little ménage à trois. Or maybe it was that Jack Nicholson fella. It's hard to keep track after six Long Island Iced Teas."

Now you've got my attention.

Go Off On Tangents.
I like when people are telling me something and then get distracted with some quirky line of thinking, or when things get a little surreal. Gwen does this all the time. She'll say she found ants in her house and then she'll roleplay what the scouting ant thinks when it finds her house and goes back to tell the rest of the ants that...well it was funny when she did it.

This is somewhat related to my next tip:

Tell Me Something I Don't Know.
This isn't as hard as it seems. I'm the first to admit that I don't know everything. In fact, I don't know much of anything. So when I read something I like to come away with a trifling tidbit that would fall under the category, "Useless Things I Didn't Know That I Didn't Know". It makes me feel enlightened. So tell me a secret. Open my eyes, or make me laugh. That's good stuff. For example: Did you know that train conductors on the LIRR get three days off if someone throws himself in front of their train? Well, now you do, and aren't you glad I shared? (But don't expect a refund if you're a passenger).

True story: Someone I sort of worked with, "T", (not her real initial, because her name was Shelley) wanted her money back because she missed her evening at the theatre after someone pulled a "Suicide By Train."

Keep It Simple.
I read this journal because it had gotten a write-up in The New York Times, of all places, and I wanted to know why The New York Times wasn't ignoring Ms. LemonYellow like they were ignoring me. Well, I didn't understand what the hell this smartypants was talking about. I hate having to reach for Webster's Unabridged just so I can understand someone's everyday thoughts. It makes me feel stupid. So don't use big words, or I may have to vituperate you.

Your Hobbies Suck.
Unless you've got a really interesting hobby, like, um...blimey! Do I have to spell everything out? Nobody's really interested in how you whittle away the endless tedium of your life. Again, back to the gardening thing. Unless your website is about horticulture, there's no call for telling everyone where you planted your petunias and impatiens and chrysanthemums. I mean, I'm sure it looks nice and all, but it's hard for me to get jazzed about your landscaping. So instead of saying,

"I planted petunias in the front yard."

tell us that,

"While I was planting petunias, I showed the neighbor's kids what happens when you pour salt on slugs."

Stop Whining.
If you're going through all the trouble of maintaining an online diary, don't complain about having to post entries. If it's not fun for you, it's "Hello darkness, my old friend" for the rest of us. You don't have to post every day. In fact, please don't. Nobody will mind if you wait until you have something interesting to say.

There are tons of webrings for journals clogging up the Web and every diarist seems to belong to all of them. Well, at least four. I've even seen a website that will critique your journal, but only if you spend a lot of time critiquing other people's journals first. Ugh. Why would you do that to yourself?

So now you've got people reading online diaries who are the same people who write their own online diaries. And with the stress of reading other journals, frequent posts, the constant backbiting, catfights, and overall incestuousness, people get lazy and lose track of the point (to entertain me). I think this is another example of "not being able to see the forest because you're consumed with recording material for yet another witty diary entry."

Which leads to my next point:

Don't Take Yourself So Seriously.
I already think you're kinda pompous simply because you have an online diary to begin with. But I could be wrong. A little self-deprecation in your journal goes a long way. (Further explanation would be an example of taking myself too seriously.)

I feel a little sorry for people who are friends of famous online diarists. I mean, it's one thing to make fun of your pathetic friends in small groups. It's another when it's printed daily for the world to see. Come to think of it, that's one of the things that I love about the Internet. The ubiquitous sarcasm.