2023-09-02: linkedin informs me i have appeared in 3 searches this week

the number declining. the number ideally zero.

years ago, someone i knew online wrote that their old website journal was maybe the truest they've ever written. that livejournal added community, but also added expectations. you could see how many people followed you: you understood the existence of an audience. like it or not. she definitely didn't.

i didn't either, using that site only because others did, not understanding just how true that would be in the decades to come. the handwritten html on our websites languishing, our last entries just past the turn of the millennium. the text was garish but it was ours. the sites imperfect but they were ours.

the internet used to be for misfits until it wasn't. it used to be for you and your painfully awkward friends, and then everyone else got online. your homophobic relatives, sure, but also all the popular kids, whose parents bought them cars for their 16th birthdays, who would lack for love but never for money or smallness. the ones who look forward to high school reunions; the ones who threw trash at you as they drove by. you can't say the things you would've said about them, years ago. you're too easy to find. it's all linked to your profile. the social media sites never remove anything, persisting as soft deletes.

i'd been unhappy online for years, scrolling mindlessly, not really doing anything, just looking at things. posting. and understanding that the best period online wasn't my first, in the mid 90s, or even when i first started using the internet regularly, two years after that. it was even later, when we were just finding interesting people and their sites and journals. reading about people in cities we'd never visited; would never, ever visit.

audience destroyed the best part of us. the expectation of audience was even worse, having a stifling, muting effect. my livejournal less raw, less honest than my old journal ever was. oh but i had so many followers. oh but i would struggle to name even a handful now. but my friends from the era before? i could tell you their names (or what they called themselves), their first jobs, their messy home lifes, and all the hopes they had for themselves.

i hope they've realized them. or even some part of them. anything but the thought that we're all coming home from our jobs, like we did then, carving out time, searching for deliverance in quiet glow the screen. every year finding less. less.