Sometimes it Takes 20 Years to Learn a Lesson

I was (roughly) twelve years old when I started coding little hobby websites. None of it was serious. I just enjoyed teaching myself how to code HTML, and used that skill to make little sites about Nintendo games.

I found it exhilarating, the idea that you could take something you made and put it out there for the world to see. It was like having your own little corner of a kingdom that could be whatever you wanted it to be.

Looking back twenty years later (again, roughly), I realize now that’s almost certainly the most fun I’ve ever had on the Web. There was something innocent about it all that I’ve never been able to recapture.

I find that interesting, the innocence of it all.

Yes, the Web of the 1990’s and early 2000’s was different; one could argue there was a certain innocence about the thing itself. People had something to say and found a way to uniquely express themselves without the use of social media or the pressure of an algorithm.

Every now and then I come across some sites that remind me of those simpler times: e.g. this, this or even this.

The Web looked different twenty years ago, it worked different and it sure felt different whether consuming or creating.

But it wasn’t just that the Web itself was different. What I realize now—what has become so obvious with the proliferation of social media—is that so much of the innocence I felt creating those ‘silly’, little, hobby sites was because of the way I interacted with the Web.

It was not a means to some end, be it fame or fortune.

Rather, it was just a toy. It was something to have fun with, to do fun things and to make fun stuff.

I made those little websites because I enjoyed doing so. And sure, I would have been ecstatic if they became something, but that’s not ultimately why I did what I did. I did it simply because I enjoyed doing it.

I did it for me.

There is far too little of that on today’s version of the Web, and truth be told, I can’t exclude myself from that criticism.

My goal now is to work back towards where it all began. I want to make stuff that interests me. I want to write stuff I want to talk about. I want to share things with others without being concerned about the algorithm, or SEO or AI or any of that garbage that is all too commonplace nowadays.

The Web can be a lonely place. I’m not sure if anyone ever saw anything I did when I was twelve, and I’m not totally certain anything has changed now.

That didn’t stop me then, and I don’t want it to stop me now.

I hope it’s not like that forever—I’m not immune from the charm of an audience. But if and when that day does come, I do hope I’ll stay true to the thoughts I’ve outlined above.

So here’s to a lesson learned two decades ago, but one I didn’t realize at the time. It’s time to just have fun doing stuff online and see where it goes.


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