The internet played a massive part in my life growing up, I’ve been actively using the internet since I was as young as eight years old, my mum has photographs of me sitting at our massive box computer that needed to be plugged into the landline to connect to the internet – that’s how long I’ve been browsing the web for. But unlike now, I didn’t use it for social media (probably because it wasn’t a big thing), and instead, found other ways to amuse myself online that I’d never consider now.
My internet routine now is full of social media scrolling and tons of blog reading. As a kid, I’d google, “Dress up games for girls” and go on one specific website that acted as a catalogue for other mini games and girly websites.
Through said website, I found Habbo hotel. My sister and I played on it every day. We had friends who made “retros” and gave us admin rights, we even had a friend buy us Habbo Club rights where we spent six months with only the finest clothes and furniture, until someone hacked me one day and took away everything I owned. I gave up on Habbo because I was too down in the dumps to log into the account which I had spent months building a home for it only to be snatched away.
I went seeking for another website, which is when I found the OG IMVU website. I was about nine and I played it for a few months before I got bored of it. I moved onto forums and roleplaying websites where I’d get to read peoples fan-fics, stories and even participate in chatting to people who were fans of the Tomb Raider series just like I was. It was around this time when I began actively writing for fun, it was short stories mostly and I did dip my toe into a few fan fictions, a child me loved to write and I spent a lot of my time on the internet doing so. I loved Literacy in school and writing short stories in class, so coming home and doing it and being able to write about whatever I wanted to, made it all the more fun.
I’d do this for a few years, I’d dip my toe into YouTube AMV’s and I’d sign up for Bebo and MySpace all by the time I was twelve. I’d gotten back into IMVU because I liked making friends on it, I was underage to be using the website but as I said, I wanted to make friends and I loved dressing up my character to look however I wanted her to. I met friends from all over the world and even had a tight knit friendship group. We’re all still friends actually, which to me is amazing considering what people would say to me when I told them that this was how I passed my time.
I was able to express myself through the character customisation, I was able to open up to people unlike how I could with people I knew in person, and I was having fun. Somewhere around this time I also signed up for Tumblr. This was the first website where I could find how to express myself without the means of an RPG-esque character and I was the “real” me on it, my real name was (and still is) on my header, I was posting selfies and reblogging anything and everything I felt like I could relate to. It was my favourite website and I spent all hours of every day on it.
Tumblr was a defining website for me, because it was the first form of blogging that I could get into. I wouldn’t really call Tumblr a blogging platform now though, I’d describe it as a reposting forum, because of how I write on this blog, and how I view blogging now. I then used years of my time on the internet in a cycle of Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube over and over. I’d grown out of IMVU and I hadn’t played Habbo since I’d gotten hacked. I no longer wrote short stories on these forums and I’d not touched the likes of anything gaming related. I was bored of the internet. I was mostly on my phone looking through Instagram but the spark and obsession I originally had with websites had gone. I was bored.
So when I was in college I decided to start a blog. This blog. It was a way of bringing everything I love into one platform and having complete control over it. I can write whatever I want to write, I can say whatever I want to, I can post photographs that I’ve taken and I can engage with people in a way unlike before.
When I look back to the lessons that the internet has taught me as well, I feel like it has played a massive part in how I’ve matured as a person. I’ve learned lessons that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise, I know how to be kinder and more tolerant as well as how to educate myself without being ignorant. I can be as creative or as boring as I want to and there is constant inspiration all over the place.
I feel like the internet was always my safe space to be myself. Which has led to this platform, this website, this blog. It’s the ultimate way to really be me and really express who I am. I love the internet and whether or not I’ve used it for the right reasons over the years really doesn’t matter, I’ve made friendships that I wouldn’t have made without it, and I’ve grown into someone who I’m quite happy to be.
The internet will be around for my children to grow up with, the internet is something even my grandparents use now and to me, that’s amazing. My future children will hopefully be able to express themselves in similar ways to I did, and if they want to sign up to a forum to talk gaming or to write short stories, then I completely encourage it because hey, it worked for me!