You’re 25 today. So, let’s talk.
I remember the time before you. I did play on the street, I did go home with muddy knees and yes, my friends lived across the road from me. I had a lot of fun and I’m so grateful for my memories of being a scruffy kid who played on the street. My memories BI (before internet) are really exactly what all of those terrible memes say and I do get nostalgic thinking about the memories and laughter those days brought.
Those memories, however, have nothing on what you have brought me, internet.
I remember our early days together. The dial-up days. Look, I know you’re embarrassed now but don’t be – we worked through those times and I knew you’d be worth the wait. I mean, yes, okay, it was much quicker to call my friend to arrange plans than rely on not-so-instant messenger but I just loved the sweet satisfaction of pinging messages and awaiting responses.
I remember making websites that weren’t actually too different to this very one but they didn’t cost an annual fee and were almost always covered in tacky glittery gifs.
I remember Blueyonder emails. REMEMBER how important that email address felt?
Our early days were frustrating and I did go for days, weeks at a time without seeing you but once we recovered, we never looked back, did we internet?
From meeting my first crush on Habbo Hotel (I wonder who actually still goes on that bizarre site?!) to explaining my feelings at any given time via my MSN messenger screenname, you were there. Of course, I paired these screennames with “emoticons” that tended to be broken hearts and wilted flowers, bless my emo heart.
I poured my heart out to you from day one, internet. My various Livejournal accounts, my MySpace blog posts, my bulletins and of course, the music I listened to meticulously referenced on Last.Fm. I showed you every little part of me and for every part I showed, there was a new website waiting to embrace it.
When I was 13, I was a shy girl who moved to a different country and I wasn’t really welcomed with open arms by my fellow peers. My weird accent, consistent scowl and aversion to small talk led to me being pretty unpopular. But you always loved me. I found my fellow weirdos thanks to you, internet. My mum was worried for me but I wasn’t. I was relieved. Being a freak is one thing but being the only one is isolating. Thanks to AOL, band forums, MySpace and of course, MSN messenger itself, I never felt alone.
My first love, even before you, was music. Fortunately, thanks to Limewire, I had all the music in the world right at my fingertips ready to go onto my MP3 player. 30 songs in one tiny player! How lucky! Limewire did give our computer viruses, some dodgy versions of songs that didn’t quite sound like the versions I’d heard on Kerrang and never-ending frustration when I downloaded a full album but I loved Limewire. I tried others but like a lover that you know is bad for you, I always went back to Limewire. I couldn’t resist.
Even now, I don’t regret my time with Limewire. I can’t listen to Good Riddance without hearing the glitch that came with the Limewire version but that is a small price to pay, really.
Then there were the friendships I did start in person but curated online. The friendships that were built through late-night talks and bearing our souls in a way that just didn’t seem possible offline. We all struggled with our hormones and chaotic emotions but you, internet, you gave us a safe outlet that was very much “what is said on the internet stays on the internet”. Thank you for that.
In my later teen years, you were a solace to me when I moved to Glasgow alone. I spent my evenings finding new music, writing down relatable lyrics in my notepads and attempting to maintain the friendships I’d built.
I finally did start a real blog where I wrote about music. The first thing I wrote was about Jack Johnson’s new album. Then I wrote about my ex-boyfriend’s band’s new album. Then, through the magic of the internet and my Tumblr account, I met with three other girls who wanted to write about music. We started a music blog together called Let the Music Do the Talking, after an Aerosmith song. We ignited one another’s passion for writing and became a lovely wee team for a while.
Then, we got an email from somebody called Chris who was starting a monthly metal night in Glasgow called Mayhem Underground – would any of us like to cover it? I jumped at the chance. Mayhem Underground was run by a team of volunteers. The manager, his partner, two photographers, a radio dj, a weekly podcast host, a comedian and myself. We met so many bands, and I made friends with so many people from the bands. It was wild, incredible, terrible and short-lived. But I met some of my closest, dearest friends through it that I still cherish to this day. All from one silly email. Thank you for that.
All the while, I had a Tumblr account. I know, I know. Tumblr has a bad name but for me, it was an easy way to speak to people from my city without, you know, talking to them in person. On my 26th birthday, I was surrounded by around 10 of my friends and my sister asked me where I’d even met so many people who liked me (thanks Georgia!) the answer was Tumblr. For better or worse, Tumblr. Thanks for that, too.
My music writing slightly took off and I eventually started writing for a local youth magazine called The Banter Magazine. I interviewed so many incredible artists and had so many wonderful gigs experiences thanks to The Banter Magazine. It all started with Amy Lee from Evanescence and the last artist I interviewed for the magazine was Scott from Frightened Rabbit. Unbelievable. And all thanks to you, internet!
Thanks to my writing being readily available online, I managed to get some paid SEO freelance work which added to an accidentally growing portfolio. I didn’t even think of where my portfolio would take me, I was just excited to be writing and to be paid to do so!
In 2014, I landed what I thought was my “dream job” thanks to my writing. Thanks to you, really, since you gave me a platform. That job ended, and so did others following it but now I write for a living. It’s my entire job! This really is the dream. I am a content writer for a fantastic wee company and if it weren’t for you, internet, my job wouldn’t even exist.
In fact, I don’t know what my life would be without you, internet. Friends, jobs, unforgettable experiences, and all thanks to you. So happy birthday, internet and thank you so bloody much for the memories. And the endless information at my fingertips. And the opportunities. And Netflix.
I am willing to forget the utter horror that was Faceparty. We’ll call that a bad patch and leave it at that.
It’s been 15 years that I’ve loved you, internet, and although our relationship is sometimes unhealthy and I did use you as a crutch for a long time, I think our relationship is beautiful now. It has taken me to places I never could have been to if it weren’t for you.
I’m sure Tim-Berners Lee had bigger dreams for you than terrible memes and Llamas in Hats but I’m grateful for it all.
Happy birthday internet, I love you lots.