Before the term “blog” was part of our mainstream vocabulary, before everyone and their mother decided they were a lifestyle blogger, and before twitter and instagram and facebook…there was this amazing thing called Livejournal.
If you were a teenager or college student in the early 2000’s, chances are, you had a Livejournal account. It was a cross between a daily blog and your personal diary. It was part of your everyday routine. It was glorious.
Here’s a nostalgic reminder of ten things you loved about your LJ:
1. You bought a premium account just so you could have more icons.
LJ icons were the equivalent of an avatar; they’d show up next to your username when you’d post an entry or leave a comment. The basic account package only gave you five icons, which was clearly just not enough. There were entire communities dedicated to creating icons, each perfected with unique brushes in Photoshop. It was essential to have a wide range to choose from, in order to perfectly represent the content of your writing.
2. You spent a long time picking the design for your “Friends Only” banner.
Public LJs were for the naive. It was essential to have a private LJ – what if your crush found it? Or your parents? Ugh!
If your LJ account was locked, as it should have been, you knew that you needed an eye-catching graphic on the front page. This would alert all potential friends (and spies) that only the chosen few would get to read your personal entries. You made your selections very carefully, and thought hard before you let someone be your LJ friend.
3. You either adored or loathed rating communities – there was no middle ground
In the mid 2000’s, rating communities became a “thing”. In a nutshell, they were like a virtual sorority, where the only criteria for acceptance was hotness. In order to be accepted into the community, you had to post an application, along with several pictures of yourself. Then, the girls in the community would vote yes or no. There were variations on these groups, some of which would vote on your taste in music or books, but most of them were extremely superficial. Looking back, why did anyone put themselves through this?
4. Before you committed to Livejournal, you flirted with Deadjournal and Xanga
Truthfully, there was very little difference between the Livejournal and Deadjournal platforms. The main difference had to do with the overall color schemes and vibe of the sites. As one could assume, Livejournal was bright and happy…Deadjournal was dark and…not happy. Xanga was a different beast entirely, but let’s be real: Xanga was like the forgotten step-child of the online journaling options.
5. You remember the glory days of “Hot Fashion” and “Off Hot Fashion”
Ahh, Hot Fashion. This community was a breeding ground for hipsters — a place where people could gather and share photos of their clothes and accessories. It was basically a fashion blog, written by multiple teenage authors.
Off Hot Fashion, the sister community, was a place for members of Hot Fashion to talk about unrelated topics. If you weren’t a member of either community, you definitely lurked. A lot.
6. Surveys were your game
Similar to the “tag, you’re it” games that float around Facebook, LJ surveys were contagious. A friend would tag you at the bottom of their survey, meaning you had to answer the same questions in your journal. Many of these surveys contained upwards of 50 frivolous questions, which meant they took a long time, which meant they were great methods of procrastination. Final exam tomorrow? Better take a Livejournal survey!
7. How are you feeling? What are you listening to?
One of the best features of Livejournal was the mood/music prompts that went along with each post. As you updated your LJ, you had the option to choose from dozens of moods, each with their own icon set. There were cats, teddy bears, aliens, flowers — the list goes on and on. In addition, you were able to tell the world what song was currently playing in the background. Let’s face it, for most of us, it was Dashboard Confessional.
8. You had a love/hate relationship with image hosting sites
Today, livejournal allows you to upload pictures right into your posts, but this was not always the case. You were subjected to the mercy of websites like Photobucket and Flickr (in its early years), and you had to link your images with an html tag. There was nothing worse than spending an hour on a picture-heavy post, only to publish and realize that all of your links were broken. Oh the humanity!!!
9. You were forced to learn some coding
In the beginning, there was no easy way to format your posts. If you wanted bold text, you’d have to get some html up in there. You found yourself going to Webmonkey on the daily, looking up tags every time you wanted to do something different with your text. The plus side is that now you can list “basic html skills” on your resume. Silver lining, folks.
10. Your LJ friends became real friends
Probably the biggest upside to Livejournal was the friends you made along the way. You were immersed in one another’s lives through your daily posts. In a way, you had stronger bonds with your LJ friends than you did with your real-life friends. You knew every detail of their existence, from their emotional breakups to their favorite type of ice cream. It was a unique type of connection, and one that you will always be a little nostalgic for.