Of an adulthood grown on the internet…
2001-2005: LiveJournal (still alive!)
It was a cleverly-named blog that began innocently. This being the year 2001, social networking had yet to become ubiquitous. That said, I could (and did) talk smack about a roommate in a diary-like manner, never worrying that they would actually see the words that I had written. I spent a precious few weeks posting about the people around me until they realized that I had been pouring my heart out about them in the next room. I was sure to keep my guard up from then on, knowing full well that anything that I said could and would be held against me. A few months later, nearly all of my friends were on there, selectively pouring our hearts out according to who wasn’t on our Friends Lists, sometimes yielding passive-aggressive results. Around 2004 I created a new LJ with the intention of regaining my lost innocence. I think I posted twice.
2003-2005: Friendster (deleted)
I first heard about Friendster from a friend in the spring of 2003. She explained that one had to approve one’s friendship, which struck me as cruel and unusual. I signed up, added all of my real-life friends, and by that summer, I had deleted myself in a huff of self-importance. Of course that didn’t last long, so I wound up re-registering, re-adding friends, and re-collecting testimonials. This was also during the innocent time in which people said genuinely complimentary things about each other on their pages. What killed Friendster? It was the “See who’s viewed you” feature. People became too scared to use it, for they always wanted to indulge their inner stalker. I hear it’s very popular in the Philippines. I will not hate on Friendster, for I gained lots of new Activity Partners on there.
2004-2008: MySpace (deleted)
MySpace was of course “The New Friendster.” Everyone kept telling me about it, saying “Oh, I’m NEVER on Friendster anymore. It’s all about MySpace!” At first I wasn’t sure of why MySpace was so popular, but I liked that it had a blog feature, so I went with it. Of course the big deal was personalizing the look and feel your profile, which people did to varying degrees of tackiness. Ultimately, that led to its downfall: too many flashy profiles. By now, we were all used to the idea of approving a friendship, so we moved on to the phenomenon of the Top 8. I’m sure friendships have been lost due to someone not being on someone’s Top 8. I wasn’t immune to the jealous feelings that it sparked. Conversely, I loved seeing that I was on a new friend’s Top 8 (or top 12, 16, etc.). I moved to NYC in the middle of the MySpace craze. I used my profile to gauge my success at making new friends. By the time the balance of my friends, or, more importantly, those you could find in my Top 8, lived in NYC, I knew I had settled in. I deleted myself once I had realized that no one else was using it. To be honest, I wish that I had kept my profile alive.
I found out about Tumblr before I had heard of Facebook. I wound up signing up due to its nice design and minimal fuss, though I hated that people couldn’t comment, they could only reblog. Though it was meant to be a hybrid social networking/blogging site, I mainly used it to blog. I picked music as my topic, mostly because I was a repressed musician. My Tumblr account is still alive today, but I use it far less than I once did. I am under the impression that, with the exception of a few friends who are still active in that community, it has been overtaken by gay porn bloggers, referred to as Grumblrs.
I found out about Twitter through a friend who, only a few sips into a happy hour beer, had gotten no less than 10 text messages. I knew that he had a lot of friends, but this was insane! Come to find out he had been using Twitter, a new microblogging platform that you used through text messaging. (That’s right, early adopters, do you remember that?) I was always fluctuating hot and cold over Twitter, but at present, I quite enjoy it. I am a bit of a Twitter evangelist.
I remember joining Facebook around the same exact time that I joined Tumblr. Of course this behemoth requires no commentary whatsoever (or all the commentary in the world). Sure, it has changed our lives and the way that we live them, but wouldn’t we have said that about Friendster back in 2003? Yes, we would have, but the difference is that our Great Uncles weren’t on Friendster. Now it seems as though every move we make can and should be monitored, much to our chagrin.
So what’s the point of outlining my social networking history? I mostly wanted to compare and contrast. And though I could have gone all the way back to AOL in 1996, I wanted to analyze why I used these different services to connect with other people. The one huge difference between 2001 and 2011 is that people have gotten lazy on social media. Where you used to write an actual paragraph to express yourself, now you just update a status: “Nina Simone. Fettuccine Alfredo. Saturday Night. Bliss.” I miss the actual paragraphs.
Why is it that we abbreviate everything that we say? Principally due to the fact that we’re spread so thin. We’re all racing to read our Facebook news feed, get our Twitter statuses updated, reblog Tumblr photos, etc. We no longer take the time to sit down and engage. We mostly just click to share, click to like, use a few words to update. Also, we can no longer compartmentalize who’s on- and who’s off-line. It used to be that 17 friends and I would write to each other. Now everyone I know is on Facebook, leading me to feel as though I am spread way too thin. Surely I am not alone.
And with that I announce my plan to centralize my internet activity on this blog. I just spent hours figuring out the easiest way for you to comment under any number of situations, whether you be only on Facebook, or if you only see my Twitter feed, or if you were one of the few who read my new blog on here in the first place. If I find a funny cat video, I’ll post it on here. If I want to wax poetic in 1100 words, I’ll post it on here. It’s about not feeling as though I am completely overwhelmed by keeping up with so many networking systems. So without further ado…