Towards the end of my senior year of high school in May 2001, through a site called Bored.com, I located a website called OpenDiary. This was before everyone (and their mom) had a blog. This was before Twitter, or Tumblr, or Facebook. The idea of writing publicly on the internet was completely alluring to me, a young woman who planned to study English literature in college and to spend her life writing. I had always been a “sharer,” but I had trouble connecting to others in my extremely cliquey high school. Certainly my experiments in public writing in that setting had ended only in drama. Of course, once I got going on OpenDiary, that too led to drama, and I had to resort to a “Friends Only” setting not long after it was offered.
I paid for that website long before I regularly had money for food. It wasn’t optional to me. I spent hours and hours writing on that site, I wrote every day for years, and even more time on instant messenger with my friends from there. I was young, and my drunk dials were often to people I had never even met in person. (Sorry, Adam.) I flew hours away to meet these people, eventually, and have continued to do so throughout my 20s. Now that I am 30, I am still connecting and re-connecting with people whose lives I came to know through OD — two weekends ago, I travelled to Durham, North Carolina for a professional convention, but I stayed with a longtime diary friend and her wife who coincidentally have been friends with one of my friends through more conventional means for years. Y’hear that? My friends from the internet knew my friends from not-the-internet. And that’s the kind of connection I have come to love.
OpenDiary is everywhere in my world now. When I tried to tag all of my friends on FB who had once written on OD, I missed at least 5-10 people (but managed to remember 25+) because there are so many connections in my world that I consider vital which came from that site. There are too many integral moments to mention.
Today, Bruce Ableson announced that OpenDiary would be shut down sometime over the next two weeks. In a common theme with his last three years of “maintaining” the site, he cannot tell us what day it will go away. He recommended downloading our diaries, but the site has been trying to load for 2+ hours now on my lil Chromebook and I won’t hold my breath for its eventual appearance. I downloaded everything ages ago, but I did want a screenshot or two of my last OpenDiary iteration.
Bruce Ableson sucks. But all those people I met on his site? I love them beyond words. I am grateful for their parts, big and small, in my life. We have fought, we have kissed, we have stayed up all night talking about everything and nothing under the sun. We’ve married, divorced, had kids, laughed, cried, and on and on. However these relationships might end, the end of OD is not it. He cannot take these humans from me, because they’re in my heart, my FB feed, my email Inbox. R.I.P. OpenDiary.
Oh, look, it finally loaded enough for me to get this screenshot:
We had an ok run.