Many friendships have started with mix tapes.- Om Malik
These is this new meme going around about finding a random teen or tween on The Twitter and following them to give you better insight into the kids today. Seems like a good idea, eh? I think I've been meeting or following random people online since the start of the internet.
I initially put up a homepage my freshman year of college, back when there were about ten websites. My page was filled with a lot of random imagery and animated GIFs that would link to various things. I really wish I had saved copies of those early things - but they are lost to time and don't show up on the Internet Archive. One of the random visuals was a picture of Sailor Mars, alt-texted with something like "Sailor Mars - My Future Wife", that linked to my About Me page. This is how homepages rolled - it was the early days. The result of doing this back then is that when you Yahoo'ed for "Sailor Mars" my site came back in the top 10 results. A nice young lady named Cindy from somewhere in Tennessee did this Yahoo search, found my page, and wrote me an e-mail. I think we exchanged e-mails about life and times for a couple years - and eventually she dropped off the radar. We had very different backgrounds and world views - so it was interesting discussions. Lost to the wired... so it goes.
Sometime my sophomore year of college, a junior in some art high school on the east coast dropped me a line. I can't quite remember, but I think her opening mail also had something to do with Sailor Mars. Apparently a college dude having Sailor Moon on his website was quite the thing! We traded mails for about a year and I got to relive the joy of junior year of school as she went on her first date, got dumped for the first time. Like most - she eventually changed e-mails or something and was lost to time... so it goes.
Henry was fun - I think I was a junior when I found his Geocities site when looking at various "Shrines" about Evangelion. Henry was a senior at some high school. He was a smart kid and I had a lot of fun exchanges with him over the year. I think when he went to college he switched emails and once again... poof... gone to the internet void... so it goes.
When I was taking a compilers course and searching the internet for help I ran across "CompSciChick's" online journal (we had moved on from "homepages" but we hadn't made the technological leap to 'blogs' yet). She was a computer science student at some school in Chicago taking a compilers course and compaining about project partners. Her journal was filled with nice and interesting computer science updates for a few months and I enjoyed reading about her take on learning a similar field to me. Then it got really weird. She decided that it would be fun to make extra cash by stripping. So she spent a few months practicing pole dancing and working up the courage and finally auditioned at a few "classy" places - all of which told her she wasn't good enough. She didn't want to work at non-classy places, so that ended that. Eventually her site stopped updating... so it goes.
When I was living in Memphis, TN, consulting for a casino management system I was bored out of my mind and going through a tough patch of "what am I doing with my life?" The office was on a huge plot of land and I would spend my lunch hours wandering off somewhere and squirrel fishing--you tie a peanut on a string, have a squirrel grab it, and then attempt to lift the squirrel off the ground. It is referred to as a "catch." I did an internet search on the topic of squirrel fishing and found Yasuhiro and Annie. Yasuhiro hadn't been updating his site in ages, but Annie was still updating and I was fascinated. I would be describe her site as a collection of personal essays and she was a good writer. Heck she has become a professional writer. While her site has a habit of going dorment, taking vacations and the RSS feed seem to always be broken (RSS hasn't updated since 2011? come on annie), I still follow it and she still updates. When she moved out to San Francisco we even met up a few times. Now she if off to the east coast and recently engaged (congratulations!). While her updates are less frequent, I still look forward to continuing to read the small personal essays on her life.
When I joined The Twitter right after it debuted at SXSW - none of my friends were on it and so I started following strangers. And it was really quite interesting being connected these strangers lives and micro-updates. Alas - all of those people have dropped off the twitter over the years.
When I saw the #followateen meme start trending I realized that I am not currently following any strangers! None! So it was time for me to start looking for some random teen to start following to get back into the game of learning about randon people's lives. But how to find a teen? You could search for "i hate highschool," "im only 15 but," or "i hate the SAT" - but I thought I could one up it. Why not find a teen who is currently attending the highschool I went to? A little bit of searching on The Twitter and BAM! I'm following him. I'll see if I have anything to report back in a few months (years? (decads?)).