Site Manifesto

A history of my time on the internet and more about my website.

A fun fact: The original description of this page was "A brief history of my time on the internet and more about my website. As you can tell, this page ended up more than "brief".

As a 2001 baby, to say that I remember the old web would be disingenuous. My experience on the internet and social media are almost intrinsically intertwined. By the time I would've been sentient enough to have a personal website of my own, Geocities had closed down. I didn’t even know that personal websites existed until I watched Daniel Howell’s video revisiting his childhood website in 2014. For as long as I can remember, the internet has been run by corporations—even before I was old enough to have social media, my life on the internet revolved around children’s virtual worlds which were at the time, abundant.

The closest thing I came to experiencing the “old web” was when I browsed Tamagotchi blogs up until around 2009. I grew up with a younger sibling that was allergic to most pet fur, so getting a real pet was never a possibility. This reality ignited my interest in virtual pets, to the point I’d consider my first “fandom” to be Tamagotchi. My family only had the money for me to physically only have one, so when my tamagotchi wasn’t beeping for me to feed it or clean it’s poop, I had to find some way to feed my insatiable urge for Tamagotchi content. Most of the Tamagotchi blogs I read were hosted on places such as blogspace and wordpress.

Eventually, my interest in virtual pets shifted from Tamagotchi to Neopets. I don’t have many positive things to say about the site and its staff today, but the one positive impact it had on me was that it encouraged me to learn basic HTML and CSS. Every pet on the website had something called a “petpage”; basically a web site hosted by neopets allowing the pet’s owner to edit, add or remove content. I believe that the purpose of these pages was to allow kids to roleplay as their pets, but many people used them for other things such as: personal art galleries, in-game item wishlists, and in-game pet adoption agency websites. These pages were the closest I came to experiencing personal websites.

However, like most interests people have as kids, I grew out of Neopets around the time I entered middle school. I made an Instagram account around the age of 12 because everyone else around me had one, and I consider this the beginning of the end of my relationship with the internet as a purely creative one.

I am a person living with mental illness. I don’t think that the internet and social media “caused” me to become mentally ill, but my burgeoning mental illness and the addictive nature of social media fed into each other. Growing up in a rich, white neighborhood, I had what many considered to be unconventional interests, pushing me online further. I maintained an art account on instagram because I loved to draw and wanted to share my creations with the world, but suddenly one day it was no longer about sharing my art. Every like, comment, and follow gave me a dopamine rush like none other. In a moment of strength, I deleted that account when I was 14 years old, 2 years after its inception. I had managed to free myself from the clutches of instant gratification, even if it was only for a little bit.

The time I lived without any social media was peaceful but short lived. I unfortunately caved and created a tumblr account around the beginning of high school to follow the girl that I had a crush on. We had a short six month relationship before eventually splitting up, but my tumblr account remained. One of my irl friends fell down tumblr’s otherkin rabbit hole, and posts about it would routinely show up on my dashboard. I was struggling immensely with my identity at the time, and the ability to control how people perceived me online was some of the only control I had in a world that hated me for my skin color and sexuality. As a vulnerable 15 year old with a naturally addictive personality, I ended up getting sucked in too.

My social media addiction came back full force, but with the venomous teeth of delusional thinking alongside it. My art was certainly influenced by this. I let myself have Instagram accounts again. Somewhere during this time period, my primary social media changed from tumblr to twitter. I entered my late teens where a lot of my latent mental illnesses and life problems were starting to rear their ugly heads, and social media became my escape. Despite the hardships, I managed to graduate high school and go to college.

Undergrad managed to keep me busy enough that I didn’t have the time to spend on social media or draw the way that I did up until that point, finally giving me the time and space necessary to explore who I was. I was able to leave my primarily white neighborhood bubble and make friends that understood or wanted to understand my life experiences. I reintroduced therapy and medication into my life on my own terms. Covid-19 brought with it “online learning” and my screen time was mostly spent studying. I realized my passion wasn’t the education field and was actually healthcare. The only social media account I truly stayed active on was a relatively small, private twitter account that existed for me to yell about my life on.

I’ve since graduated undergrad and created this website as a form of creative self care. For the last few years, tumblr and twitter have been my art posting sites of choice. But these sites aren’t meant to be art sites. Growing up with social media has really made me think about my art pieces within the constraints of these social media sites. Tweets aren’t meant to hold the user's attention for longer than a few seconds, Tumblr posts can potentially lower art’s resolution drastically, and Instagram cropping is terrible…and I haven’t even started to talk about the impact that algorithms and numbers had on me. I love the idea of having a living gallery of my work even as a hobbyist, but I hate being at the mercy of a platform’s constraints.

Despite how social media has affected me negatively, I’m actually not completely anti social media. Just because I was not able to use it responsibly in my adolescence, doesn’t mean I think it shouldn’t exist at all. For me right now, social media is still a necessity. As a person of multiple marginalized identities, the internet and the ability to connect with others with similar marginalized identities is important to my wellbeing. I’m actually really touched and honored to have people that still follow me from when I was 15 years old on Tumblr, who are able to witness me as a healthier adult today. I also think it’s a gift that there are people discovering me on social media right now as I currently am, the version of me I’ve worked hard to become.

Having a twitter and tumblr to post art on for visibility as well as an external site as a gallery for my pleasure is my healthy balance right now. For this reason, my website is free of trackers and stat counters, and within Neocities (current site hosting platform) I’ve disabled my site profile and ability to follow me. I will never know if anyone has actually visited particular pages or if I’m just yelling into a void unless they make an effort to tell me. I don’t want my website to functionally become another social media platform I sell my soul to. I created a website as a way to repair my relationships with the internet, social media, and creativity as a whole. Nothing more, nothing less.

It's tamaNOTchi! Click to feed!

If you took the time to read this far...thank you. Click the image above to feed my Tamanotchi as a way to say you were here ♡