Ready for another historical ride? This time, I’m taking you on a personal ride. Join me on my trip to social networks memory lane. It’s gonna be a long one, but I promise it will be worth it.
Let’s go back to the millennium. That’s when it all started for me. MSN Messenger had just arrived. People who were in their puberty years in the early 2000s will now experience a nostalgic moment. For those of you who don’t know what MSN is. I’m just taking a moment to feel kinda old right now.
Okay, the moment has passed.
MSN Messenger was an incredibly popular chat application under youngsters back then, including myself. No blue checks or last seen notifications here and no smartphones. It was all about that computer with dial-up connection in those days. You also had to put some serious effort in waiting. Waiting to connect. Waiting for someone to come online and waiting for a reply when that person had a “busy” status. Or when you had put your own status on “be right back” and you didn’t come back for two hours or so because all of the sudden you were distracted by a great movie on television. Or you went undercover by “display as offline” because you just wanted to check your email or spy on your online contacts while they couldn’t see that you had been online. 2000s youngsters, you know you have all been there and done that. Every time when you were online, you would get a pop-up of other contacts that logged on. Remember all those people who logged on 3 times in 5 minutes? Just to make sure that you really didn’t miss their online presence. Also, don’t forget those display nicknames with inventive inspirational quotes or all the special characters you can think of. Creative, good old times… More importantly, good old offline times. When you logged off, you were really offline. In the early MSN days, you could only be contacted when you were online. Try that in the present…
Moving on to 2003. It’s all about coincidence. While searching for a product, I stumbled upon a forum. Forums back then had a really 1998 look and feel. But nobody cared about that. If you got an answer to your question, you were already happy. Digital life was so simple. Somewhere in the winter of 2003, there were interesting events that I wanted to follow online. So I subscribed to several forums that were active and “big” in those days. Good old days and nights where I participated in discussions on national and international forums. I liked to write (my view about certain topics). Obviously, I still do. I challenge you to count the words of this blog post when you’re done reading. Anyway, back in 2003 everything was new and fresh. Which new forum topics had been started? What new reactions were added? Exciting, exciting while I waited for the computer to start without wi-fi and with Internet Explorer. I became so active on a certain forum that I upgraded from “normal member” to news poster where I spotted and wrote news items that were, in my opinion, interesting for that forum. Yep…my first baby steps in the online writing world!
Weblogs, Myspace and…Hi5
Time flies, so we’re already in 2004-2005. I discovered weblogs. I was interested immediately. Surprise, surprise. However, I was not immediately attracted to start a weblog myself. I obviously liked writing. But what should I write about? I didn’t know. Most weblogs were in diary form or with poems and without pictures. Imagine that in the blog-o-sphere of the present. I didn’t want a diary blog. Besides that forums were still more interesting to me back then. Blogging? Maybe some other day.
Moving on to MySpace.
And…moving on again, because Myspace and I just didn’t have that click.
In 2005, Hi5 became a hype. Or at least, it captured my attention for the first time in this time period. However, my curiosity for this social network lasted just a few months. I vaguely remember something with giving rates to profiles and there was a who-viewed-my-profile add on. Other than that I cannot even remember how it looked like. It was that impressive. Or maybe I am just suffering from memory loss. If you don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s ok. You didn’t miss anything.
Fast forward to 2006. I was already going to college when I met Hyves. Hyves was a then-popular social media channel quite similar to Facebook, just a lot more chaotic. Remember al those creative and colorful backgrounds? I especially remember the backgrounds of some people that made text unreadable. Or gave you a headache. However, Hyves was THE online place in Holland to (re-)connect with friends, classmates and family. Forums were also still frequently visited by me.
Facebook already existed. I got invited by a classmate in 2007. I was curious, so I registered. Five minutes later I was wondering why in the world anyone would like to use Facebook. It looked so boring without backgrounds and a personal touch. What’s the deal people? I logged out after ten minutes and ran back to colorful and chaotic Hyves. Little did I know that I would learn to appreciate the minimalistic Facebook background within 3 years.
Hyves v.s. Facebook & blogging
Entering 2009. Something was boiling in my mind. I really wanted to write on my own site. And fast. When I have something on my mind, I want to take action immediately. So I opened a Blogspot account. Blogspot (now Blogger) was THE provider of free blogs. I was really excited back then. I finally had my own space on the world wide web! With my fresh Blogspot blog, I was just going with the flow. Living by the blogging day. I wrote wherever and whenever I wanted. Back then, I wrote in Dutch about (then) current events and my view on certain things in the world.
In that same year Hyves started to annoy me. I logged into Facebook to see what was going on there. I noticed that other friends had joined Facebook. I started to log on more frequently. Once a week. Twice a week. Three times a week. Every day. Something was up. I knew I had to make a decision. I left Hyves for Facebook in 2010. This was also a year when blogging was not my highest priority. I had other important stuff to do. Like this new social media to discover and some serious convincing-friends-to-leave-Hyves tasks to do. With success. Around 2011 more and more (Dutch) people started to elope with Facebook. Mission accomplished.
In 2011, I picked op blogging again. I was packed with inspiration. In fact. I switched from writing in Dutch to English. I knew what I wanted to write about: Old Hollywood, retro and inspiration. I felt the need to let other people discover the positive vibes of those good old times. More and more, I started to professionalize my blog. More and more, blogging became popular. And look where we are right now: at the top of online influencers.
Ah and then there was LinkedIn. This social media channel started for me as a I-don’t-know-how-handy-this-is-but-let’s-give-it-a-try tool. After a while, it really became a handy online (old) colleague address book. Nowadays it has grown out to the number one source of information for me in my professional career. I use it to educate myself about subjects I find interesting, like social media, marketing and writing. Sharing knowledge is always a good idea. Besides that networking is key. Every now and then, I’m curious to see what (old) colleagues are up to in their professional career. If you’re self-employed or looking for a new job it’s definitely the place to find new employers and…let employers find you. Besides that, it’s always interesting to connect with people when you share a field of expertise, skill and of course passion (did anyone say blogging?).
We still have Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest left. I was not really a fan of Twitter, but since 2013 we’re on tweeting terms. I discovered Pinterest in 2012. I was just scrolling to find a nice picture.
And kept on scrolling.
And some more scrolling.
That’s usually what happens when you use Pinterest. Nowadays I am still a Pinterest addict. When it comes to Instagram, I was a late bloomer. I joined in 2014 (no early-adopter action here!) and very slowly I started to appreciate it. How can you not love those filters that make an ordinary meal look like a five star restaurant dinner.
So that was my personal historical social media journey. I hope you enjoyed the ride. I’m really curious to see the developments in social media in the next 10, 20 or even 50 years. When I’m old and grey I already know what I will be saying. “Back in my day we had Facebook to connect with friends” and youngsters will be like: Facebook, pfff sooo retro…
P.S. II: Dutchies, interested in my very first blog posts? A few of them can be found here. Want more? Just select month and year in my archive section.