Or, how I’m a terrible nerd.
I consider myself a private person. Well, sometimes. I can chameleon myself into different versions of me wearing funny headgear. I completed a few of those personality questionnaires and it frustrates me because I see the answers coming a mile away. Oh! You want me to pick the extroverted answer so I can look like a party animal? Ohhhkay. But the truth is much more complex: I’m both. There’s a term for that – Ambivert. That’s right, an Introvert and Extrovert, happily residing within the same body. To round out my discussion from above, this is why I do and do not consider myself a private person.
What does this have to do with blogging? Way back in the day, after the Apple IIe was introduced into my house with the gloriously large floppy disk versions of Oregon Trail, Ali Baba, and Leisure Suit Larry, but before dial-up internet was fast enough that you didn’t have time to make a PB&J while waiting for AskJeeves to load, I found myself a crazy little online text-only PvP RPG called Vagabond’s Quest. Had my life taken a different route, I would have said this creation was the start of my serious gaming addiction. But we didn’t get good internet at our house, not enough to spend more than a half hour per kid on it anyway (and most of that was taken up checking my Hotmail account), and so I had to resign myself to playing when I went into my parents’ office and could get a spare computer. Then, for a few glorious hours a week, I transformed into characters in text. I was so taken by this game I kept track of my personas in a spiral-bound notebook, listing weapons upgrades, magic and fighting levels, new spells, and tips for gaining experience quickly. At one point, I had ten active warriors, all vying for favorite position. There was Snowlion, Snowtiger, oI=====> (yes, that was a character of mine), and Powernapper, just to start. My favorite combo was a Drake Paladin (half-dragon warrior equally good at magic and fighting, but slow to level). Before the fancy, high-tech graphics kids these days enjoy, we had text. And imagination. And so I slaughtered hoards of players just like me, staying up late to do battle across (very slow) electrons around the globe one imaginary dice roll at a time.
Since I had the exclusive use after hours of one computer and an associated scanner, I joined an online fantasy and sci-fi art community, Elfwood. It may still be up and running, though I took down my pictures and profile years ago. It was my first taste of collaboration and sharing on the interwebs. Think of it as a precursor to DeviantArt, or even Instagram. There were clearly some professionals on the site, but it was largely amateur and from the perspective of a freshman, perfectly in my wheelhouse. I drew and scanned, scanned and drew. I removed “dirty” backgrounds and pencil smudges pixel by pixel in MS Paint. I scoured the site for artwork that inspired me. I left comments. I even wrote a few fantasy chapters of a story I was working on and posted them in my profile. Technically, it was my first website.
After I entered college, I found this little-known site called The Face Book (thefacebook.com). You had to be invited by someone you knew, much like Gmail was run at first, and it started with .edu email addresses. UW-Madison was big enough to be one of the early ones to join, and so I was with Facebook long before status updates (Stalkerbook), personalized news feeds (Localized Gossip), or even photo albums (Zero Privacy). We’re talking land of Pokes and Throwing Sheep at friends. At the same time, I found an online journaling service – not quite a proper blog – called LiveJournal. At first, it was a place to connect with a few friends and comment on their online journals. Most of these included random quizzes (Which Supervillain Are You?!) and a listing of Things You Don’t Know About Me. I started following a Gryphon page (yes, devoted to all things mythical half-eagle, half-lion). And I posted regularly. Although I dismiss most of my ramblings and late-night musings, this was the first blog I definitively wrote. In fact, I am still active on my LJ account and it’s now been over twelve years, following me through college and commissioning, flight school, two deployments, marriage, and life in England.
To some degree, I still resist the oppressive wave of social media. I like to disconnect, unplug, turn off all things electronic. I like walking in the woods, being surrounded by nature’s own media: the sight of a perfectly blue sky, the smell of spring rain, the taste of frosted air, the sound of a choir of songbirds, the feel of uncut grass between my toes. But I understand technology moves at a thunderous pace. There is no room for those who can’t adapt. And so I reluctantly jumped on the Instagram bandwagon, created a WordPress website (which lay fallow for a year), joined LinkedIn, made a Pinterest board for wedding dress ideas, and searched for artistic connections through platforms like Celtx and Google+. I have debated creating a profile on DeviantArt. There comes a limit to how many options people have of contacting you and how many places you have to scamper around checking for messages, pins, tweets, and likes. It reeks of a middle school popularity contest, yet this is the future.
It was inevitable looking back. Every decision led to this moment in time, this blog about blogging. Even the word has toned up and leaned down, adapted. Blog. Web log. Indeed, I have logged my web history.
This is how I came to blog.