There was a time when the internet had these wonderful nooks and crannies where you felt safe enough to cozy up with a friend or tell someone a secret.
My first blog was a xanga account I had in college. It did not have a name. There was no header or vanity url. Just a simple page with words. I treated it like a diary. It was a place I could lay down my thoughts, feelings, hopes, sadness, and nothing more. It was before the word “blog” or “post” or “SEO” existed. I wrote about how my dog fell in love with a Golden Retriever and waited on the corner each day, hoping to see her again. I wrote about my grandmother dying. I wrote about how I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.
In a lot of ways, I wish I could go back to that page and write without worrying what others might think. To go back to when the internet had these wonderful nooks and crannies where you felt safe enough to cozy up with a friend or tell someone a secret. Now we have to validate our identity wherever we go and it is all somehow connected and exposed for all to see unless we are very careful. Social media is more noisy and self-conscious than ever. A place where visibility is determined by the number of clicks instead of the real connections you make. It often feels like I’m in a Vegas club competing for attention, instead of a quiet retreat for midnight conversations.
Maybe we have changed, too. Many of us aspire to earn a living through our online spaces – to start a business, create a brand, fill a niche, land a job. We present our best sides and share content that is easy and popular instead of what is most true. There are many reasons why I find myself biting my tongue and fearing judgment, instead of spilling my guts to a few close friends.
Once upon a time, the beauty of having a space on the internet was that it was intimate, uncensored and personal. It was a place to connect with your circle of friends, where you got to know each other better and share those things you were all too scared to share in real life. And if you were lucky, every now and then you would get that spark of recognition, that deeper connection we all long for.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about that teenage girl laying her heart out on the internet, and I’ve been trying to get her back.