I’m not sure when it happened or why, I’m not even sure there was a particular catalyst that ended my prolific content assault on the internet. One day I woke up and it just felt really hard to be honest and open online.
When I first joined the internet, it was through AOL. My screen name was CandyJRT. I lived in chat rooms and quickly started seeking out social websites to join like Bolt and, later on, LiveJournal. I made friends over AOL Instant Messenger when I was 16 that lived on other other side of the country that stayed so relevant in my life that they wound up in my wedding just a few months ago. I got in all kinds of arguments on Bolt — from reproductive rights to right to die laws. At one point, getting into flame wars with strangers online was my one singular joy. I would be up all night, and wake up before the sun. Then it was Gay.com, fighting with the troll bigots that would sneak onto the site just to abuse people. I was barely sleeping. But DAMN I was writing like 5 or 6 posts a day. Forget about it when MySpace came around. THE SURVEYS.
I don’t think I can name the one thing that happened that changed my online world because I think it was a number of things.
There was, first, that inevitable growing-up time, with all of it’s associated pains. Lots of people tend to lose some of their very best friends in their early twenties. People grow in different directions, others move, goals change, loves change, life experiences happen and judgements are made and we all say a bunch of stupid shit to each other. On the other side you come out the stronger for it and surrounded, hopefully, by those that were always supportive and loving. This period of your life, however, can be made particularly strange with the invention and connection of social media. I changed LiveJournals 3 or 4 times, back then. I’ve edited privacy settings from public to private more times than I could possibly count, for phantom reasons. Then there was that whole Facebook thing that really spoiled everything that was wonderful about the internet. Suddenly parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, family friends, cousins, teachers, pastors, exes, choir directors, school administrators and everyone else was on the web that you wouldn’t necessarily let in on every aspect on your life — especially your internet life.
When I first got on the internet it was because I was a HUGE FUCKING NERD. The “cool” kids weren’t asking if you were on AIM during my freshman year of high school. The “cool” kids weren’t teaching themselves basic HTML and building geocities websites or creating custom LiveJournal layouts and pretending to by Britney Spears in their spare time. There wasn’t even a word for that, yet! Catfishing? Jesus. People looked at you like you were some kind of freak if you spent all of your spare hours staring into a screen chatting with people you’ve never met in real life. It was a safe haven for weirdos, before cyberbullying blew up. It was where I made some life long friends. I bonded with people in real life, learning how to take apart our PCs and put them back together again. A trip to Fry’s was a treat, purchasing an upgraded video card or a new monitor.
But, everything’s so easy now. Macs really changed the accessibility game and they’re still at it today. I still think there could be a swing back toward PCs, it’s just a matter of hitting on something magic. That’s what happened to Apple with the iPod, because lord knows it wasn’t the candy colored iMac that brought them back in to the mainstream. So, now, everyone calls themselves a nerd, sometimes “ironically”. Everyone is on the internet, all the time. There is no tight community, there is only now a virtual representation of the most fucked up parts of real world, concentrated on several huge, epic social networks. Bullies alongside language policing and “you shouldn’t really post that on Facebook”s and all kinds of other garbage clog the flow of information. A lot of us used to say things on the internet and DARE anyone to come for us on the subject. Now, I just don’t feel the same way about it all. Some people do. I don’t.
Like, my dad used to think that every single person I talked to on the internet was a phony. And before he passed away he was cruising his smart phone like nobody’s business. I woke up yesterday to an alert that my mother had joined Twitter.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is I experience a lot of anxiety and fear when I sit down with the intention of writing in a public blog, now. This is especially true if it’s something that other people will have equally strong, but dissenting opinions in regards to the matter being discussed. It just so figures I would be most passionate in situations of injustice and inequality. It’s not like that gets people all fired up or anything.
I figure I better end this because those feelings are creeping up on me and I don’t want to back down. So I’m going to schedule this post and move on to something else in my day.