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I grew up a child of the Nineties and subsequently grew into my current self on the Internet. From the early days of only being allowed an hour’s Internet use via AOL (thanks Mum) to developing an entire business online, it’s safe to say that the Internet holds a special place in this millennial’s heart. No, it isn’t eroding my braincells, although yes it may be disrupting my social skills, and no, it isn’t completely evil. Today I want to share a story of growing up online and the life lessons it’s taught me.
My first foray into the Internet was AOL Kids. I was allowed 45 minutes online strictly for educational purposes. No really, Mum had the parental controls down to a tee and I’d only be able to access the learning resources on AOL’s own gateway. I’d impatiently wait for the modem to connect and for the dial-up connection to play its entire plinky tune. I’d play all of the Maths games, complete the trivia and then write a 500-word short story on their storywriting tool and then be rudely cut off because my time was up. Time limit and URL restrictions aside, I was a girl obsessed.
Topshop bird print satin shirt
Vintage Chanel straight leg jeans (similar here)
The Cambridge Satchel Co. Cloud convertible backpack (gifted)
River Island frill trim suede backless loafers (similar here)
Next came the era of chatrooms, advice boards, Neopets and several sites that piqued my attention after airtime on CITV shows. Oh Neopets…! Mum lifted my 45 minute limit and extended it to 60 and my own email address (I was firstname.lastname@example.org) which meant that I could use Under 16 chatrooms and finally visit websites that weren’t within AOL realms. Of course I instantly created a Neopets account as recommended by Fearne Cotton, and spent every Saturday morning painstakingly earning enough points to feed my Neopets and not have to go to the Soup Kitchen. Aside from Neopets and researching which yoyo to ask my parents for, I didn’t do much else online except for realise that there were hundreds of girls like me, also on their parents’ desktop PCs, talking about school, boys, makeup and other top secret topics.
I’d managed to create a following through my personality and bulletin quizzes, my ‘talent’ and creativity for the very first time. (And then one time, a ‘popular girl’ installed one of my layouts and proceeded to message me asking me why I was ‘copying’ her by using… my own layout!)
The next step was DOLLS WEBSITES. Did anybody else have one of these or was I the only weirdo who had no friends but a bangin’ website? I’d spend every evening perfecting my Freehosts website, adding hit counters and guestbooks, celebrating my first 1000 views, creating glitter dolls and learning how to create glitter myself. I installed a Miniclip arcade and had boys visiting my website, ooh la la, and I think this is really where my adoration of sharing things online really began. I also kept a diary on there, the very first iteration of blogging, before a girl who disliked me printed all of the pages out and proudly laid them out on the desks in our form homeroom. (Yes, it did feel like real life Mean Girls.) I migrated to LiveJournal.
Sharing things online has played an inherent part in my growing up. As somebody that struggled to make friends and was bullied throughout her childhood, it offered me a place to vent, unload, be creative, and ultimately led me to where I am now: creating content for the Internet. So as the conversation continues surrounding whether or not blogging is ‘dead’, I can firmly attest to the fact that, no, it isn’t, it simply continues to evolve and move from platform to platform. And as an Internet kid through and through, I’m totally down for it.