I have been on the internet now (23 years) for almost twice as long as I wasn’t (13 years). Depending on who you ask, that makes me an Xennial or an old Millennial, however you want to identify those of us who Oregon Trail’d our way through the jungles of the early world wide web with little parental supervision but lots of general parental encouragement. I spent as much time hanging out online as I did with my friends in person.
No one called it that then, but I started my first blog in….I guess officially 2001, when I left my high school town for college. I say “officially” because it was my first blog in form and content, but I was far from new to the internet—I’d been cruising sites for a year before my first GeoCities page launched in the summer of ’98, the year I was old enough to be left alone (in a relatively rural setting) for whole days at a time, but not old enough to drive (and nowhere really to go):
This beauty linked to pages “about” my friends, which were completely made up stories about them featuring whatever made me laugh out of the free stock photos and clipart available in the website editor. I have a screenshot of the whole home page, but it *names names* (first and last, because the early internet was a wild place) and I’m not ready to do that just yet. You’ll have to trust me when I tell you it is truly, truly terrible.
By 2001, blog-like platforms had just started to occupy the internet. Blessed with high-speed internet at my college dorm, I created a blog that might even still exist at a site called DiaryLand (I have to log into my account, which I may or may not be able to do, to find out if they still have my files.) For the first time, I could write for an audience member that wasn’t necessarily my friend, or my teacher, and someone might actually read it and respond.
I blogged before it was cool or profitable.
I wrote about my days on campus, waxed poetic about the people I saw, recounted the weird posters that made me laugh. My shallower posts relived conversations with my boyfriend of the time. I recalled weekend trips to go shopping or sneak into a movie. I met, dated, and broke up with my very first boyfriend primarily online (oh, that is a *really* good story, I will have to remember to tell you about that!) long before Tindr was a thing. It never crossed my mind that private details about my life or my friends’ lives might put anyone in danger—the internet was a different place then….
The brilliance of my naiveté never ceases to illuminate my memories. It’s a miracle that I didn’t get abducted, like, several times. But for all that I look back and wish I’d been more cautious with my words on that early blog, what came of all that unfiltered writing was my voice, which has carried me through a lot of challenges. (Also, I learned to code raw HTML because of my online diary years, which is another story.) Regardless of what I do, personally or professionally speaking, I seem to always end up writing on websites. It’s like….my destiny.
And so here I am, writing on a website that I made. This time, I can’t say for sure what this space will be, though I do have one project coming up that I’m very excited about (I’m calling it “21 by 31” and if you click on that, or on the link up there ↑ you can read about it.) There will be lots of writing involved, and I hope strangers (particularly the sort who pay money for writing) read things that I write (and like them) someday.
In the meantime, don’t mind me.