In the beginning, there was no internet. But then, in 1998, my parents drove us to a big-box electronics store where we picked up a boxy Compaq Presario and drove it home and plugged it into the wall in the downstairs guest bedroom, and then suddenly, there was a little bit of internet. I was six years old, and I mostly remember marveling at the gratification I felt being able to instantly load Britney Spears fan pages and the Disney games website and Microsoft Encarta with the historical trivia game and being mildly freaked out by the computer’s alien-sounding dial-up noises.
Then, a few years later, there was AOL Instant Messenger. There were chat rooms. My neighbor Emily showed me Kazaa, which she used to download music. I was a mostly normal and well-adjusted kid, but I felt very lonely, and the internet was suddenly this portal that could connect you with anyone. It felt full of possibility. Bored during the dog days of summer in middle school, I spent days and days on LiveJournal and Xanga, joining a Harry Potter roleplaying community and reading everything I could, which unfortunately included a lot of aesthetically pleasing and psychically damaging pro-anorexia blogs those days. My friend Sarah showed me Neopets, which felt very childish to me, and The Sims, which did not. We wrote posts on Blogger, for some reason. It felt very grown up to publish my own words on a website that had a framework of legitimacy.
We got DSL. I got a digital camera. I got a MySpace account. All three of these things happened in 2006. I posted awkward pictures of me in my DEB homecoming dress, mirror selfies with the flash on, pictures where you’d flip the camera around and blindly take a picture of your face and then turn the camera back around to study the screen and see what you looked like. I wrote a lot of cringey blogs that have blessedly since been deleted. I learned about music, downloading entire discographies off of Limewire after hearing bands like Metric and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs playing on someone else’s profile. I’d never been to a concert before.
That same year, my friend Claire’s older brother, who was in college, invited us to join something called Facebook. It was the first time putting my real name on the internet, after years of my parents warning me over and over that if I did, I’d get kidnapped or something. I posted screenshots of my freshman year schedule, an entire album of pictures from my photography class that should have never seen the light of day, and videos posted in my best friend’s kitchen, two glowing, semi-self-conscious faces staring at the camera and narrating our lives.
In 2009, I heard about this blog platform called Tumblr. My first posts were the kind of artfully benign aesthetic pictures that would come to define the website, but then I started treating it like a blog. I developed a sizable following. It was the easiest thing I’ve ever done, cultivating a following on a platform that required the most effortless-feeling kind of one-way communication, writing a few sentences or a few paragraphs or just uploading a selfie or a song and hitting publish. When I went Syracuse the next year, I started getting recognized by some strangers on the quad. Nothing I was posting was particularly groundbreaking, but I was using writing to connect with people, which felt like magic and still kind of does. I never really made the connection between using all these writing platforms and building something of a career in digital journalism. It just felt like playing to me. I met so many people who have become people I interact with daily on other platforms, who I’ve met in person, who live down the street from me now in Brooklyn.
I’ve opened an account on nearly every app or website I’ve found since then. I was the first person I knew in my high school to use Twitter in 2008, sending little bursts of text to “40404" via SMS. I followed a bunch of finance bloggers on Ello in 2014. I still use Instagram. I started again and again on Tumblr, occasionally having my posts acknowledged by other users still clinging onto their decade-old accounts. I’ve launched TinyLetters and Substacks. And now I’ll be writing weekly, or maybe more often than that, on Medium. I’m still trying to define what it is that I want my writing to look like. It’ll involve some personal essayish blogging, but also maybe some more structured writing, analysis, and reporting along beats like consumerism, tech, media, and labor.
Some of my past writing for Medium publications includes a deep dive on the monopoly of Texas Instruments graphing calculators in high school math classes; a reported feature on the state of media at the end of 2019 (bad and getting worse); the unsustainability of VC-backed direct-to-consumer startups; and reporting on the rise and sale of buzzy fitness startup Mirror to Lululemon. If there’s anything you think I should write about, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please don’t pitch me. Oh, and make sure you click that Follow button up above too, so you don’t miss a single one of these posts.