What this book shows us is that so many people just want to talk. Not in the way that we talk so often IRL, but in that late-night, 3a.m. way where we rip away our walls to the heart of who we are, and find something in each other that binds us together beyond any connection the bond of sharing space would imply.

Jasmine Elliott, introduction

I should be resting right now. We’re gearing up for an interesting week, safely visiting family with masks and welcoming quarantined visitors for the holidays. Instead, I’m on my personal website, writing a bit about life on the internet before social media took over. There’s some interesting symmetry in there somewhere, but I’m not the one clever enough to figure it out. Fortunately, this book, better than IRL, edited by Katie West and Jasmine Elliott (purchase here), featuring wonderful tales from the early days of internet community written by some stellar contributors, enforces what I’m starting to believe more and more.

We were better off before.

I get it. Not everyone can design their own website or put in the hours to customize posts the way they want. Sometimes, they just want to post things, hit a few keywords and hashtags so the algorithm picks it up easier, then move on with their lives. I get it. But there is a part of me that feels nostalgic for something I was never truly a part of.

I may have browsed forums for video game cheats and the hunted down the best places to download individual music tracks for Sonic Adventure 2: Battle before there was really such a thing as Torrents, but the way these authors weave their tales, of starting a blog as a business or connecting with others over DeviantArt, makes me feel like I missed a party I had every right to attend.

Christmas is in 5 days time. Spend as much time with your loved ones, be they friends or family, as you can. Safely, remotely, outside in a park, whatever. Just remember to talk as much as you can. You may not have another chance.

Thanks for reading,

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