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Web Presence


I’ve been thinking about “web presence” recently after finishing Jennifer Egan’s (Pulitzer-winning!) A Visit from the Goon Squad. The book jumps around in time to tell the character’s stories–from before the internet to after, you could say–but also gives a picture (eerie, in my opinion) of a parallel present to our own.  One of the characters lived decidedly in the “cracks” of society–never joined any sort of website, put information of himself up anywhere, was nearly completely anonymous in all the usual modes of “finding someone.”

I’m coming up on 22 years old. That is and feels extremely young, yet I remember a time before the internet. I remember my first email address through the Junior Beta Club in middle school; I got to stop using my parents’ email account and it was a big deal. I remember my first webpage (also courtesy of Beta Club, which incidentally is still online, but I went back and changed info for it back in 9th grade so it doesn’t have all the middle school me on it). I remember going to Lissa Explains and learning to write HTML from all those Day-Glo colored, be-butterflied tutorials. I remember using Geocities, Geocities shutting down, using Angelfire and abandoning it, for obvious reasons. Somewhere in there I did that weird Cartoon Network collect-stickers-for-your-profile-thing; my computer couldn’t handle the Java or something on it so I had to go to a family friend’s house to save my account from being deleted from time to time. My Neopets account (har har har, yes I did that too) is still active and is 8 1/2 years old.  I met some folks on the chat boards there that I am still friends with on facebook whom I have never met in person. We sent presents and birthday cards for a long time.

And now there’s facebook, but I joined that after high school. During high school, I leapfrogged the whole myspace trend, but I did learn 1337 (have a t-shirt to prove it) and started my livejournal account which I wrote in almost daily. I’d roleplayed on Neopets (made an angelfire website with tutorials on rping…) and on a set of forums that I founded myself for my friends and me to play on. I was wooed by my first suitor on the private messaging feature of that same forum; we went to the same school and I did the coding for his online “nation” and we talked for hours in its chat room on IRC (nope, I didn’t do AIM. Ever). So romantic. We never did learn to speak as honestly in person as we did with some kind of mediating technology between us. My second suitor wooed me from yahoo email (that account is also about 8 years old) and we still keep up that way, but unromantically.

For the record, the man I am dating now actually got to know me in PERSON. It still means a lot to me that he didn’t try to text, chat, or email his way into my affections.

For a college class I had to tweet about the books we were reading. Every now and then I tweet some link so I can download free music from NoiseTrade. I wasted so much time on facebook my freshman year I had to use Lent to wean myself off of it.

The other day I joined tumblr too, mostly to keep up with my sisters’ microblogging fun, but also because memes are essential to communicating in my family and so you have to keep up to stay current (thinking back to dinner where replies of “U MAD” and “trololololol” were flying around the meatloaf and green beans).

Apparently my ghostly presence is all over the web (not to mention where I’ve left comments on forums, on blogs of mine I abandoned, on other people’s blogs, my fiction writing on fictionpress and fanfiction websites, on whatever else) and I’m only now starting to be bothered.

Will I worry when the “real me” shows up even faster on Google searches?


“You and me

Walk on, walk on, walk on

‘Cause we can’t go back now”

– The Weepies

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 06/28/2011 4:11 am

    Have you ever googled yourself? I remember reading something at one point at online personality so I decided to see what showed up. I think I came up with some bowling awards I had won before, and an FAQ I posted at Nothing too harmful I suppose.

    • exkathedra permalink*
      06/28/2011 11:22 am

      I have googled myself from time to time, but aside from my doppelganger who is a Swedish teacher, most of what’s actually me are links to Facebook and Dean’s List announcements from college. A variant of the Google-game is to put in the screen names I use most frequently and see what comes up, which has resulted in some of my old web activity (i.e. fictionpress) rising to the surface.

      So yes, nothing too harmful and nothing I didn’t put there myself. But then there’s cases like my dad–he turned in papers for work (military essays) and found them for sale on google years later. He never okayed that and is still pretty annoyed by the blatant usurpation of his writing. And that’s mild compared to outright identify theft and other crimes.

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