Why Now?

19 April 2024 • Personal

I remember the days of smaller internet1.

I remember getting kicked off of the computer because Mom wanted to call Grandma. I remember signing up for a Minnesota Vikings Yahoo! group, and getting emails for every post when people wanted to talk about the team (and I played fantasy football with a lot of them until ‘22). I remember when Facebook was for people with .edu emails only. I remember having pen pals via email. I remember using Dreamweaver to make websites, way back when it was owned by Macromedia.

Then Facebook happened. And Instagram. And Twitter. We wanted so badly to connect with everyone. And for a brief time, it was glorious. It was pure. I got a couple jobs, a ton of free burritos, some lifelong internet friends, and a life partner out of Twitter. It was good. It was fun.

And then, suddenly, it wasn’t.

It’s really interesting to sit back and look over the landscape of what once was, and what it is today. Things go in cycles2, and I feel like that’s starting to happen once again with the internet.

I mentioned the other day how I was trying to make some changes to my Now page. The reason why is because I stumbled across a cool website called, appropriately, NowNowNow. It’s a site full of individuals who contribute links to their own blogs about what’s going on in their life, what they’re doing, what they’re thinking, etc. Exactly like what the old internet used to feel like, in a way.

The most recent episode of Clockwise actually got me thinking about this too; when talking about early online experiences and nostalgia, they were talking about usenets and webrings, ways of people and websites staying connected with one another. If you managed to jump in anywhere within the group, you could easily connect with any of the other people therein and learn more about them and what they were about.

The early days of Twitter were like that too. The afore-mentioned burritos happened because I discovered who was behind my favorite chain’s Twitter account, followed them, and did some side work for their org; in following him, I also discovered people in his circle that I followed as well, and so forth. We actually all met up and had snacks and drinks one day years ago, and it was cool to get a chance to interact with these people in person. Even today, there are 3 circles of friends that I miss from the Twitter days, and I pop back in every now and again to check on how they’re doing.

Thankfully, I’ve managed to fall in with a couple Discord communities that are of a similar vein. We’re scattered all across the world, but have connected with each other in ways that just seem… hard? impossible? as an adult with a child. And as I watch social media continue to descend into a place I just don’t want to be a part of anymore (paying to tweet? only searching Instagram with their AI tool now? blergh), I’m grateful for those people more than they know.

I, for one, am glad for this “shrinking”. I welcome Web 1.0; give me RSS feeds, newsletters, and more direct connection with smaller groups of people. The internet didn’t control our lives back in those days, and we were better for it.3.

  1. I swear this isn’t an “old man yelling at clouds” type post. 

  2. Apparently low rise jeans and high socks are back in fashion? Whatever. 

  3. Ok, maybe it is an “old man yells at clouds” post. But I’m not sorry for it.