Sunday, November 03, 2013

A further pleasant and unexpected event

Four years ago, to my great joy, Geocities descended into internet oblivion. Today, I accidentally discovered that Xanga has as well. Naturally, this led me to investigate the status of Livejournal, which is still limping along rather pathetically, though it has mercifully "purged" most traces of a teenaged Miss Self-Important unadvisedly and unreservedly running her mouth.

I suppose there is not much to lament in the loss of Xanga, which was an awkward transitional platform wedged between Webs 1.0 and 2.0. Let's call it Web 1.5: the adolescence of the internet, and the domination of the internet by adolescents. The result was an inverse proportion of ostentatious gridded wallpaper images to grammatical prose. But as I was telling someone IRL (yes, IRL!) recently, the single redeeming fact about all the early commercial blogging platforms like Xanga and Livejournal (and Diaryland, peeps - do you remember Diaryland?) is that they required their mainly teenage users to learn some basic code and to write long-form thoughts on a regular basis. True, these thoughts were almost uniformly sub-rational and poorly articulated. Also true, the authorial autonomy over the aesthetic appearance of their pages generally resulted in a net loss of beauty in the world. But - grumble, grumble - at least you had to try. Blogging was an investment, it had a learning curve, and it was not an activity that overlapped much with your actually existing social life, since most of your friends did not blog, or at least not seriously. This was most of all the case with Blogger but for a while also Livejournal that it required you to learn how to write for an indeterminate audience of strangers, which was both exhilarating and vastly skill-enhancing, and also on the whole a Very Bad Idea for most 16 year-olds. However, I'm unpersuaded that the present wholesale reification (surely there is a better word than this for what happens when the real is reinforced by the virtual?) of the school-based social lives of adolescents on internet fora does them any favors. The only skill this expands is obsessive self-consciousness because now you're "on" all the time.

But, such grumblings aside, I can't really be too sorry that the remnants of my foolishly overexposed adolescence that I feared would be embarrassingly visible forever are being buried sooner than I expected. Sink faster, Web 1.5, and take our crazed adolescent ramblings down with you. As for me, I have it all backed up on a hard drive anyway.


Withywindle said...

You and Paul de Man.

Miss Self-Important said...

Ha! Well, history will have to judge which was the worse crime - being an American adolescent ca. 2002, or being a Nazi publicist. I agree that they're close in scope, but I have hope for my eventual vindication.