Remembering teen website culture of the ’00s

Teenagers

I am 33 years old. My first website went live in 1998, at the age of 12. I kept that train rolling throughout my teenage years. The concept of a blog was just beginning, and was a time before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr. Myspace made an appearance in 2003, but I never jumped on that train. LiveJournal was a thing.

Sometimes I get nostalgic and remember what was “in” back then and how things changed. If you used the computer too much, you were a nerd. Which is funny, considering how connected everyone is now. If you were a teenager with a website, you were basically a unicorn.


I started on Tripod. After that, Geocities, and then some other free web host. Finally, I purchased my own domain. You were hot shit if you had your own TLD. The next best thing was being chosen to be hosted by someone who did have a domain.

Blogging started on Blogger, then Greymatter, then B2, then WordPress.

Collective sites were popular. A central website to link to the ten other websites you had, of course. With a splash page, a complex frameset, MIDI music in the background, maybe an image map. How about using CSS to change cursors on link hovers, or change scrollbar colors in Internet Explorer? Maybe the splash page launched your website in its own pop-up window, perfectly designed in Paint Shop Pro to take up an exact amount of space and not a pixel more.

Every teenage website had an “archive” page, which showcased the site’s past designs, which changed monthly. After all, you have to keep it fresh. If someone had the tenacity to steal your precious, manually written in Notepad HTML, that was a war worth fighting.

Web counters. Guest books. Web rings and cliques: elitist and deserving of a dedicated sub-page. Teeny tiny fonts at varying opacity, with drop shadows. Message boards. Popularity contests.

“Kids these days” want Instagram followers. All I wanted was to be sister sites with someone more popular than I was. I am a bit embarrassed about my past web-life, because well, teenage girls are something. And things on the internet don’t really go away.

What was your jam? Did I miss anything?

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