Pretty much the entirety of my teenage years where spent online. Every half term, every summer holiday, every weekend and weeknight. I’m talking about the days of dial-up, when I had to schedule my internet time around mum phoning her friends. When I would try and sneak online but that noise would give me away every time, or someone would pick up the phone and I’d be busted.
You know when you have those really random flashbacks to days gone by? This is what happened to me the other night, casually in the kitchen boiling the kettle and suddenly a memory of a website I used to frequent popped into my head. I then spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to log back onto said site, remembering 10 year old log in details is bloody hard! I managed it just shy of midnight and couldn’t believe how much the site had changed; which led me to wondering, how much had other sites I used to spend my life on changed?
Oh wow, I couldn’t believe that when I finally logged into my old Neopets account, the account was a whopping 14 years old! I friggin loved this site, I would spend hours going through my daily clicks to earn Neopoints (the in-game currency), I would play for trophies in the games room, becoming a Cheat champion, and was ecstatic when I managed to find all the map pieces that would lead me to the secret laboratorywhere I could experiment on my faerie usual (which is now a glowing acara!). Buying something from the hidden tower was a big deal and I was constantly trying to sneak into the Snowagers cave to win a prize but he woke up every time and blasted me! I don’t even want to know how many hours I clocked up on the site! I would even go on at all hours of the night when special events where happening, or kill time before school in the battledome.
When I logged back into the site I was surprised by how much really hadn’t changed. Nearly all the games I used to play where still there, and the unsellable junk I had stored in my deposit box was still unsellable. The site looks like it has almost frozen in time, though it still appears to be updated I don’t think it’s as popular as it once was.
Chat rooms were a big deal when I was a teen and everyone had finally migrated over from AOL Messenger to MSN Messenger, where I’d spend weekends creating cute 100 x 100 icons and trying to come up with really cool, lyric based screen names. Habbo Hotel was the first visual chat room I remember using. I created my little avatar, a brown haired pony tail wearing girl in pink with flip flops and big eyes, and explored the hotel, from it’s roof top pool bar to the grunge club in the basement. Chat rooms where no longer line by line conversations but visual places, where on a Friday night my best friend would say ‘I’ll come by your room tonight’, and she didn’t mean the room in my parents house, but the room I had created and decorated (tastefully I might add) on Habbo Hotel.
I wasn’t able to log back into my old account, I couldn’t even remember the username but wow, has Habbo changed since my day! I was a member during it’s infancy but it’s a fully fledged adult now. The graphics have improved but have kept the pixilated look we all loved, there looks to be groups now, even communities, games, challenges, and the ability to take a ‘selfie’ of your avatar and trade it with other Habbos. You can also now play it on iPad and android - iPhones didn’t even exists when this website started up!
Before blogger, there was Livejournal. A blogging application when blogging wasn’t even a term. I loved Livejournal and used it as an embarrassingly candid online diary. I had tried keeping paper diaries for years but was too afraid of someone finding them (typical teenager-symptom). I then tried keeping it in a Word document but the desktop was shared amongst the whole family so no matter what I wrote, I could never hit the save button. Livejournal not only offered secrecy, but anonymity which any teen, more so these days than back then, is looking for. I could write anything, say anything, I could even swear if I wanted to. I belonged to a little community, mostly made up of Spike from Buffy fans and we would all read about each others days, troubles, woes, etc, and once proudly won a Most Dawsons Creek-like life award from a fellow liverjournaller! Oh, the drama!
I actually deleted my Livejournal account some years ago. I came to a point where I was just done with it, I had no more to say and had found other outlets online, more specifically fan fiction. Looking at the site now, it looks like I should have stayed around a little while longer as all I can seem to see on there is fan fiction based blogs! Livejournal become a big deal in the online RPG world, with people creating journals that belonged to their characters, some of the more inventive users even created multiple journals for the multiple characters in the world/fandom they where in. I never tried this, but read them with enthusiasm and awe at how one person could maintain so many different accounts and personas.
This. This is what sparked my love for writing way back before I’d even decided on my A-Level choices. I’ve always been a big reader and movie buff, and when I really got into, say, a television series, I was obsessed. I shipped and when my chosen characters didn’t get together or an episode didn’t play out how I imagined, I struggled. Fanfiction was the answer. If a show came to an end, it lived on through the world of fanfiction.
If your not familiar, it’s basically writings based on already existing media, and lots of fandom ships and shows live on through fanfiction, just take a look at the Firefly section!
I would get lost for Summers reading bucket-loads of fan fiction for various fandoms. I dabbled once or twice in writing my own and it was actually well received - but again, none of my friends really knew what it was and I always had this fear if they found out they would think it was weird and crucify me for it - let’s be honest, school was tough enough!
What I love, is looking at the site now, nothing has changed. From what I can see, apart from being a little tidier in appearance and a change in font, everything is still the same and it’s all too easy to dive back down the black hole that is fandom (I won’t tell you how long it took me to get back to writing this post after clicking on the site!).
This is just a snippet of the sites I actually revisited when researching this post, and I lost several weekends just looking back over old sites! Ah the memories they brought back! If you liked part one, I’ll get to working on part two!
What sites did you used to frequent as much as Bloglovin and YouTube back in the day? Let me know in the comments below!