Looking Back: My First (Real) Month on Xanga… And My Last Year

Oh lord, has it really been nearly 10 years since then?

Anyway, I’m looking through my old Xanga archives that I managed to snag before the shutdown and relaunch. (The first twitchings in the nethersphere warned me that it would be a damn good idea to get a copy of those because if I didn’t, then when I finally did they’d be too screwed up to be recognizable). Anyway, since they were snagged BEFORE Xanga made the minute effort to put the user archives into a importable format, I’m stuck dealing with a mess of HTML files for nearly 10 years worth of blogging.

My adventures on Xanga officially began in May of 2005. I had just graduated high school at the end of that month, was already an avid blogger on Blogger (in the era before the Google takeover), and an obsessive writer with my own free Geocities website (which I later bought a domain for and hosted my stories without the long-winded web addresses. I was also a huge fan of chatroom roleplaying on AOL. But my blogging on Xanga didn’t actually begin until September of 2005, with the following post.

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One of my roleplay buddies, Travis, had just told me he had discovered this great website and had just made an account there. He was trying to convince me to get an account as well so that we could tell each other about our days, and have conversations even if we couldn’t log into our AOL/AIM accounts. I played dumb and told him I would sign up. In reality, I was spending that five minutes trying to remember my login info to make this post, then link him to the account “for his bookmarks”.

This post, made in haste as a sort of “Ha! I was here first!” kind of biting remark was in fact my first post ever.

The rest of the month of September was filled with quizzes, rants, raves, and angry screencaps of the seven long days that my computer spent online updating The Matrix Online before I could even play it. Ah, dial up. Those were the days.

By the end of the month, I had my first taste of a premium account, which allowed me to do things that many years later, before the shitstorm that would be Xanga 2.0 and the shutdown of Xanga 1.0, would become accessible to Free users as standard with every account, I was in heaven. I not only had a customized skin for my page, I had a whole website built around it. With a music downloads section updated weekly. A gaming reviews page. A short story archive completely independent of my blog posts. All on one page, all with one skin tag.

And as each paid feature became available for the free users over the years, the less and less I was interested in paying for said features until finally… there was no actual point to paying anymore other than the ability to get my own domain name.

But I digress and get depressed. Back then, I was an unsuspecting, fresh faced blogger new to the world of Xanga and it’s variety of clubs and groups and blogrings. I was young and excited about the world, about the internet, about everything.

And then…. I grew up. I look through my later blogs, the ones from 2006 to when my archive leaves off. And I can’t help but watch my own spiral into darkness. I went through a lot during that time. Traumatic fights and endings of relationships/friendships. I was a naiive college student, now confronted with the reality of being an adult. Now faced with the consequences of my childishness in high school. Broken family life, and retreating further and further into the unhealthy world of comfort eating, delusions, and self loathing.

There were good times, too. Don’t get me wrong. The funny little stories of my friends band. The fanfiction I wrote, the funny user icons I made. The jokes I had to share from work and the discoveries of new things to love like Doctor Who and what would later become the sushi bar to which I compare all other sushi bars to. Birthdays, love, and life also saw that dark little corner of the internet. And the entire time, I maintained a sense of anonymity. Using fake names and fake cities to lay my scenes out of fear that someone I knew IRL would come across it and get angry. Or worry.

As I grew to both hate and love myself, and figure myself out, I had unknowingly created a complex story that I hope to one day turn into my memoirs.

And now, when I look back on my final year on Xanga I see that almost all of my posts were related to the problems I could see coming for the site, and links to my blogs and sites outside of Xanga. What did not pertain to those two things were some of my angriest, most hate-filled posts I’d ever had spew forth from my fingers. A far cry from that happy-go-lucky blogger I’d started out as. I had become an angry, cynical asshole. Life and circumstance had made me that way, and Xanga was unfortunately my canvas of rage.

And ultimately, everything from that first ever post in September of 2005 culminated in the last post in my archive. The last post I made before compiling the archive.

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Later that day I learned my previous warnings and predictions were going to come true. That day, I found out about the fundraiser and the impending doom. And I found out by accident, through, of all places…. an AOL chatroom.

My internet existence, at this point, had come full circle. When that post was made, and my archive compiled, I was once again a happy-go-lucky blogger. Older, wiser than I had been at the start, but once again clean and free of the baggage and the hate. Free of the rage and the anger with which I had abused my Xanga blog.

It was only fitting that I learn the news of Xanga’s plight in the very same AOL chatroom that years ago, I first learned of Xanga’s existence.

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