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me and the web: a personal history

the age of exploration (which i guess is age nine)

I got my first personal computer when I was… maybe nine? Which is a wild age to have a personal computer and no adult supervision at. But it’s fine. (It was a maybe safer time for a kid to be on the internet than it is now, at least.)

I was into lots of the same things my classmates were into like Club Penguin and the MyScene games, but also loved just… exploring. Some of the sites I spent ages on were sites like dressupgames.com, that seem to have been built for no specific reason besides community and connection and fun. I loved how creative everything was - one of my favorite sites was the site for a webseries I loved called Making Fiends. The website still looks the same today. (It inspired my front page design!)

My first real internet community was the fanime community on YouTube. Lots of young artists like me were trying to make their own anime web series or just cute animation memes. I don't think anyone was actually successful in doing so, but the community attempt was there and it was just fun to support each other. There was even a social media site for it that I was on way back in 2010. Eventually we all totally moved to deviantArt, and continued where we left off there.

If I'm being honest, that time (pre-high school) was probably the last time I was ever that social online before the pandemic? lol. I made a lot of online friends then that I was talking to nearly every day! The internet at that time was a good place for a shy kid like me to get a social outlet, and I'm grateful.

is it social media if i'm not being social

At some point a lot of people moved to Tumblr. At my most active, I was part of the Once-ler fandom (please clap). I was starting to get busy with school so I couldn't contribute as much, but this was the last fandom I was socially active in pre-pandemic. It has a bit of a cursed rep now, but I unironically look back at that time with fondness lmfao.

In high school I also started using Twitter a bit more (mostly to talk to IRLs). My friends and I had private accounts, which we’ve sustained for 10+ years now as a makeshift groupchat. Twitter has never been perfect, but it’s served the purpose I wanted it to serve in terms of keeping in touch with my friends over the years, and I love that I can look through it to see how I’ve grown too.

(I usually talk about the same things though.)

note the timestamps.

Eventually Twitter became the new Tumblr after the mass exodus (although I stayed on Tumblr actually lmao). Moving to Twitter wasn’t hard, but it was the combination of online friends and IRL people that was confusing as hell to navigate… to this day, I’ve still not gotten the hang of figuring out what online presences I want to share with who. At the time it was fine though, since I was busy adjusting to college life and was still not participating a bunch, so I didn't have to worry.

In general it was hard to "participate" (contribute to fan activity vs just consuming it) in online communities during high school and college, but I’d throw in a drawing every now and then about whatever fandom I was into at the time. I was always online anyway, enjoying the access I had to whatever was going on and making a few friends.

quarantine comeback + eventual re-retreat

Much like everyone else, I threw myself into Animal Crossing during the pandemic, and eventually decided to repurpose an old dead Twitter account as an ACNH account, hoping to find people to trade with. Eventually I found myself part of a huge community, making lots of mutuals and some friends. Maybe a year in, I even made the jump to Fire Emblem: Three Houses with ease, making even more friends and joining fan projects like zines.

It was fun for a long time, and made me recall the sort of enjoyment I got back when I was in the fanime community - I had friends who liked similar things, we enjoyed each other's art/writing/ideas, and it was nice sharing them with the larger fandom.

But there were other things too: I didn't know how to draw boundaries, and didn't like that I felt obligated to befriend just anyone who liked the same stuff. I couldn’t take a break for fear of losing relevance. It was also becoming an increasingly hostile environment for stuff that had always been totally normal in fandom, which was not fun.

These were all things I realized could be solved by better curating my experience or doing something as simple as choosing not to care what people think, but that's easier said than done on social media. As an artist I also had to make a decision about what I wanted to do with my work and who I wanted it to reach. Did I care more about growing my career as an artist or having personal freedom? Whichever I chose, what was I willing to give up?

Eventually I felt it wasn't worth the mental stress and quietly decreased my activity. While I've never been good at keeping up a public account, it was a relief to retreat with intention, and not because I just didn't think I could handle it. I kept an account for only mutuals I really considered friends, didn't force myself to make anything polished or publish-worthy, and talked a whole lot more than I drew, without fear.

And it was fun again.

a webmaster huh? name every website

I heard about Neocities some time ago and was intrigued, but thought it was too daunting a task. And I never checked out any of the sites because I knew if I did I'd want to do it too LMAO.

But in my first month at my new job, I had to do a presentation on something tech-related that mattered to me. I thought about how soulless and corporate a lot of the web had become, and thought about how my friends and I - online and IRL - were finding ways to protect ourselves from too much psychic damage.

(I also thought it would be a nice change of pace from "how to better your SEO" or "how Musk is changing the tech world," or at least be super funny to present a sort of fuck-you to the corporate web... to an audience of people who worked on widening the reach of corporate web.)

So I talked about it! One of the things I knew I had to mention was Neocities, which meant I had to research about it. I of course got started on sadgrl.online and the Yesterweb, and it pulled me into an online sphere that I didn't know still existed but was delighted to see again after having been steeped in social media for the duration of my teen years.

I also finally pushed myself to look through the sites in the name of research, and was predictably so enthralled by the creativity in self-expression that I, as a "I need to make this me-catered or else I'll die" kind of girl, ended up being like "well shit now I have to make my own site." And here we are.

about the site

This is my little corner of the internet! This site will house anything I like or feel relates to who I am, from art to blorbos to lists of opinions on very niche things. I like the idea of having a space of my own – an e-bedroom of sorts, hence the design of my front page – and want to use this site as a medium of expressing myself without fear.

I originally designed this to be a site I would continue to update for years on end, but as of September 2023, I think about it more like a fun project where I learn how to code.

This is my first time having a space online that feels really mine, so I've been experimenting with what I want to put in it. Each page is a snapshot of what I knew about coding when I made it, so not everything will be continually updated. Of course, there will still be pages that do get updated too!

Ultimately, I'd like it to be a nice scrapbook of me at this point in time – who I am, what is important to me, and what I want to share with people.

(Sounds kind of self-centered, doesn't it? Ah well!)

Read my March 2023 writeup!

I've seen a lot of Neocities sites (and other homepages) continue to be updated for years and years, and that's something I find really exciting. I'm a person who is always doing 1000 things at once, and sometimes has to drop 900 of them to keep from burning out, but the idea of having a website I can always go back to and tinker with is really comforting.

I also wanted to create my own website to get a feel for what it was like tinkering around and being a netizen on Web 1.0, since I only caught the tail end of it. The internet was a huge part of my upbringing, so I think it will be really meaningful to try and connect to its history beyond the social media landscape of my teen years!

I don't have a lot of coding experience - prior to this, all I knew was how to add links to my Tumblr bio back in 2013. But I remember thinking that looking through the code for stuff I wanted to modify was quite fun, and that in the future, it would be cool to learn how to totally customize something just for me. This site is me fulfilling that old dream!

My goal for this website is to code it from scratch - or at least know what I'm doing when I do copy and paste something. As a result, my layouts are pretty bare-bones and incredibly inflexible, since I'm still learning the ropes. At some point I'd like to do more to make it better, but I have the tendency to crank things up to 100 and lose the joy in them if I'm not careful, so I'm making a conscious effort to take it easy.

My rules for myself in designing this site:

  • general rules like "don't steal code" "ask permission to use graphics by others" etc. goes without saying
  • don't put in code you wouldn't know how to write yourself with a guide. (except javascript, as long as it's a free-to-use code.)
  • make most of the graphics yourself! it will be fun!
  • don't be too insane from the get go. you're pursuing a hobby, not trying to sell a product. it doesn't have to be perfect.
  • on that note: enjoy the process! don't get bogged down by it being a wip. release pages that are still under construction. literally whatever

The theme of the site's homepage is sort of like a bedroom. I'm a homebody through and through and love hanging out in my own room by myself lmfao so I always do my best to personalize my space and make it cozy and fun for me specifically, no matter where I live.

short thoughts on various things

Email: Yes, absolutely. I love an email. I will always reply – response times vary, but I'll love you for sending it via a means of communication I love. I enjoy emails of any length and love the medium for allowing me time to think my response over and reply at length. (I talk a lot, even if you send me a short email.)

Discord: The least of all evils when it comes to messaging platforms, but still evil. I don't even message my close friends (see the Twitter section of my personal history above), so email is still preferred for personal communication!

Guestbook / Askbox: I am pleasantly surprised these get used. Response times again vary but because these reply boxes are usually smaller than an email reply box, I tend to write more quickly and thus reply faster. I always respond, unless you're rude or disagreeable of course!

Cliques, listings, webrings: I'm in a few but not looking to join any new ones unless it's for freaks or something along those lines.

Neocities profile: Disabled indefinitely. I don't really mind not being easily found or interacted with, and in fact enjoy the more intentional interactions that slight friction provides, even if they are fewer.

Other social media: Mostly private, poorly updated, inactive, or rarely containing original content. Not hard to look for, but not worth looking for either!

RSS feed: See my atom feed for my changelog linked on that page! I don't want to make it impossible to keep updated on any site happenings, so feel free to follow.

Do you even want to be interacted with at all? Yes of course! I just want to be transparent about how I operate, and minimize the number of times I am faced with an impending exchange of Discord handles and must awkwardly try to break the news that I am a hermit.

a manifesto in bullets

why i started this site

  • I'm a whore for customizing shit
  • I like things that can be preserved/saved easily
  • Social media is exhausting
  • I want a place to dump all my brainworms organized in a way that makes sense to ME
  • I'm a bit of a hermit and like having my own space that is not primarily interactive, but still FUN
  • I want to interact anyway, and love the way people interact on Neocities
  • I don't want to see things I don't care about and the easiest way to do so is to have a site where it's only things that I care about
  • I want to feel safe being a weirdo in public
  • et cetera, et cetera

what i'm advocating by being here

  • FOR privacy, autonomy, and curation of experience
  • FOR appreciation of art, interaction, thought, and effort, no matter the length and always on one's own time
  • FOR creativity and self-expression
  • FOR a culture of slow compassion and understanding rather than reactivity and harassment
  • FOR the freaks!!!!! (positive)
  • AGAINST the metrification of our lives
  • AGAINST hustle culture / monetization of all skills and hobbies, just because you can
  • AGAINST endless consumption and production
  • AGAINST clout-chasing, virality, networking, and other things that reek of insincerity

information

Content on this website may not be suitable for visitors under 20 years old. While I highly discourage minors from being on my site at ALL, pages with age-restricted content also:

  • have been labeled when linked around the site,
  • contain warnings on the page itself,
  • and are marked as restricted to adults.

Mei's Room is currently hosted on Neocities, and is built on brackets.io.

Any graphics here made by me were made on Clip Studio Paint (desktop) or Procreate (iPad).