Recently, Television Without Pity, aka TWoP, ceased operations. In April, they stopped posting any new recaps and on May 31, the forums shut down. Even though I hadn’t posted in the forums for a long time and only occasionally popped in to read a recap, I was sad to hear it. This was a site I used to spend a lot of time on. I was very active in the Gilmore Girls forums for a long time and I made a lot of friends I’m still in touch with today.
But let’s back up a bit. The loss of TWoP, a place that was a huge part of my online life for a long time, got me thinking about what Lorraine and Sweeney on Snark Squad refer to as “internet origins.” Theirs are hereand here. And here’s mine.
When I was a freshman in high school, we got the Internet. I used my mom’s email to write to my friends, and I’d send these long, very enthusiastic emails to my friends. Except once I got a friend’s email address wrong and it went to some random guy.
We had dial-up Internet (my parents actually had dial-up until I was a senior in college), so I couldn’t spend too much time online for fear of tying up the phone line. But I never spent a whole lot of time online until the summer before my junior year of high school, when I got into The X-Files.
I got into The X-Files at a weird time—during the summer between the seventh and eighth season, just as the show was losing David Duchovny and the quality was about to rapidly decrease. Back then, they showed reruns daily on FX, and I’m kind of impressed with myself for how quickly I got caught up with the show considering that TV on DVD was not yet a thing. Instead, I just watched and taped those reruns, and since I was watching them out of order, I discovered X-Files fan sites that helped me make sense of what had happened on the show so far.
There was one big fan site in particular, now defunct, called Idealists Haven, where I discovered this little thing called fanfiction. I read a ton of XF fanfic—often saving them so I could read them offline and not tie up the phone—and eventually started writing it myself.
Yeah, that’s a deep, dark secret from my past. No, I will not share that fanfic here. Believe me when I say that it is truly, truly awful. I need to remove all traces of it from the Internet and then pray that the Internet is not, in fact, forever.
Then I went to college and The X-Files ended. Freshman year of college, the big thing was finally having high-speed Internet. I joined AIM and posted lots of melodramatic away messages. (Actually, I think I enjoyed coming up with different profiles and away messages more than talking to people.) I downloaded a ton of music through questionable means. I finally had my own email address.
Sophomore year of college was when I rediscovered Internet fandom. I was watching Monk at the time and started a short-lived Angelfire page (which I’d lost the address to until recently) where I just kind of rambled about my thoughts on each episode and which character had been the “coolest” in those episodes. While I’d always liked Gilmore Girls, this was the season where I started connecting with fellow fans online via TWoP.
Nothing has shaped my Internet life more than TWoP. I’ve made so many friends through that site and a lot of us have stayed in touch through Facebook and posting on a private forum. I’ve even met some of them in person. We used to have local TWoP cons where TWoP posters from Boston would meet for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, and meeting these people I only knew by their screen names was awesome and kind of surreal. I went to my first TWoP con my junior year of college and I was so nervous, but I had so much fun!
But, uh…one time I accidentally started a flamewar. It actually got a write-up on this site called Fandom Wank that documents Internet drama. I’m the Katie they mention in that post (they seem to agree with me, thankfully), but basically what happened was that after one Gilmore Girls episode that most fans liked, the recapper, Pamie (whom I actually like and who has since published several books and written for many TV shows), posted a really negative review. TWoP had this kind of asinine rule that you couldn’t criticize the recappers in the forums (although showering them with praise was fine), so when Pamie linked to the recap on her blog, I left a polite blog comment saying that I disagreed with her and other fans joined me. Well, the next thing I knew all the other TWoP recappers were piling on yelling at us and it majorly escalated, culminating in Pamie posting this really sarcastic recap for the next episode. I was mortified and, even though I didn’t think I’d done anything wrong, ended up apologizing to Pamie. I had not meant for any of it to happen—but now I kind of think the whole story is hilarious. Years afterward, I saw the incident mentioned elsewhere on the Internet and was like yeah…that was me.
Oh, yeah, and I started writing fanfic again. It got to be kind of an obsession—I’d be sitting in class planning out my next story instead of taking notes. But it was great writing practice and enough people read and liked my stories that it boosted my confidence a lot. (I’m actually pretty sure that more people have read my fanfic than anything else I’ve ever written.)
BC was on Facebook pretty early, when Facebook was just for college students and the URL was thefacebook.com, and I actually held out for a bit until I joined in December 2004. I was never on Myspace, though. All those pages where music started playing the second you opened the page annoyed me so much that I could never bring myself to join.
The same month I joined Facebook, I started my first blog, which I’ve since made private. I was very ambivalent about the idea of any kind of online journal or blog for a long time, but I finally decided to start one that only my online communities knew about. In 2006, several of my online friends and I joined Livejournal, and a few years later I started a second LJ where I did share some things with real-life friends. I no longer use either of them, though.
In September 2006, I started this blog. That same year, I got back into fanfic, this time for The O.C. (I have not relapsed since, though. And yes, I have often referred to it in terms of an addiction, because it is highly addictive!)
My most recent online community has been 20sb. Once I joined that, I discovered so many awesome blogs—and people—and have become friendly with many fellow bloggers. I wish 20sb was as active as it was in 2011-2012, but maybe that will change with the new redesign they’re planning.
And that’s my life online so far. More will be coming soon, specifically changes to this blog…stay tuned!