Back in 2008 I started a blog, Allison Writes, just to have a place to put my thoughts. I had been online journaling off and on since Diary-x was a thing, and LiveJournal still holds a major piece of my heart. I’ve made many good friends through LiveJournal and the blogs that came after, and still follow/read many of them to this day. That’s to say nothing of the “online friends” who became “real” friends.
And that’s just a tiny fragment of my thoughts on this “heyday” concept. It seems harder to really connect with people online these days, even though it is now acceptable to make friends and dates online. My first few online friends and I totally lied about how we met to others in the beginning, because everyone thought that everyone else on the internet was a murderer catfishing you (though that term became common much later) and you were crazy and pathetic to make friends online. I even told my roommates that I met a date in line at the post office (what?!) to cover that we met online. For all the good the internet brought into my life, that was definitely a weird period of time…
But I digress. I’m not talking about having to cover up making online friends – I’m talking about making them in the first place. Or, more specifically (and more selfishly), how much I used to love blogging. Everything I did and thought was a blog post. Was this because I was 20 and thought I was the most interesting person ever? Maybe. (Probably.) Was this because it was 2008 and it was fun to read random, mundane shit about people you don’t know online? Also maybe.
In 2008, I wrote at least 3 posts a week, and was scheduling them way in advance because I had so much to say. Now, I aim to write 2 a month here, and on my book blog, and often wait until the last minute to meet that goal.
In 2008, I didn’t share my last name, but I posted pictures galore – of myself, my apartments’ interiors, my beer flights, my friends. Now, my last name is in my URL, but good luck finding a “selfie” of me – even on my own phone. Again, is part of this because I was 20 and thought I was fascinating and cute? Maybe. Probably. And now I am just boring and frumpy, and my web presence reflects that.
But also! The internet isn’t what it used to be. I understand that everything was always public (except perhaps “friends-only” LiveJournals) and could be found by anyone – randomly or on purpose. But somehow it still managed to feel like a fun little club where you met cool people who liked the same things as you and commented on your blog posts and wrote things you were interested in so you could comment on theirs, too. And thus a friendship was born, and sometimes you became closer and sometimes you guest-posted and sometimes you even met in person. And when you met, you knew intimate (depending on the blog and the person) details about someone you were just now seeing in the flesh. And it was amazing and intoxicating and totally changed how you formed relationships.
Because now, the internet seems cold and corporate, and blogs seem either boring or the equivalent of glossy magazine ads. Aka either too real or not real at all. You can make friends on Instagram, or keep up with the friends who used to write blogs you loved, but it’s too easy to scroll, click a heart (or double-tap the image if you have clumsy thumbs), and move on, without reading the caption below. Some people bill Instagram as “micro-blogging”, but is it really?
I try to avoid the hassle by using Instagram for book reviews. I don’t mind scrolling and liking a photo of a book I want to add to my TBR pile, or a book I just read and loved. I don’t mind scrolling and stopping to read the caption accompanying a cover that caught my eye. And I even tried to avoid the hassle by shutting down my personal blog in 2015 and only posting on my book blog, connected to said bookstagram. That’s why it’s hard to find a selfie of me – I’d rather share book covers and my thoughts on those books, which I still post on the blog because old habits die hard and, to be honest, I don’t want to inconvenience anyone mindlessly scrolling on Instagram. Do they want to read all my thoughts and feelings on this book? Maybe not. But if they click to my blog, they’ll get what they came for.
It’s a weird attitude to have towards social media, I know. (And don’t even ask me about Facebook, where tumbleweeds blow across my account.) And I’m sure I’m viewing things from 2008-2011 through rose-colored glasses. And I’m sure that mostly, I just miss the act of sitting down at the keyboard every few days and having thoughts spew from my fingers and me thinking I’m interesting and funny, instead of criticizing every word my pen puts on paper, editing before the sentence is done.
So before you ask, it’s not you, Internet, it’s me.