What Xanga Taught Me About Love

I’ve grown up with the best of both worlds. The ‘90s ultimately ruled and I lived a decent childhood without being permanently attached to pieces of technology. I actually ran around outside. For fun! Sure, you may yawn and say that I’m under 25, so what do I know about life without technology? I know that I didn’t even have a computer until around 1999 and I wasn’t heavily attached to it until I was 15, even then it was just MSN Messenger late at night. It wasn’t anywhere near as cool as ICQ but it did the job of gossip, swooning and heartbreak.

But then when I reached 11th grade in the mid-2000s, my new crop of friends, whom I followed around scrupulously, introduced me to the terrible/ beautiful world of blogging. I signed up for Xanga. Everyone I knew had Xanga or Livejournal. It was terrible in the sense that no collective of teenagers should really ever unleash their hormonal issues on the virtual world. It was beautiful because that’s when I truly began my love affair with writing and developing my writing style, which was, let’s be honest, complete sh-t right off the bat.

I loved Xanga. I really did. I would update it at least once a day, maybe two or three depending on the severity of the emotional issue, and I was always hungry for what my friends wrote. My thirst for knowledge, of being kept in the loop, was never fully quenched.

The trauma that I call love really hit me when I was just turning 16. I had my heart shattered by a boy who loved Tool. I, at the time, loved all things American Eagle. In the end, it seemed like the right choice to part ways. Not long after I found Sylvia Plath, The Strokes, Belle and Sebastian and Oscar Wilde. I dove right into a world of romanticism and heart break I have yet to climb out of.

Xanga started out as a forum for me to detail the various things I did each day, explain why they mattered, why I was SO AWESOME, and leave cute comments on various posts by my friends. In a very short amount of time Xanga began to be the place where I slung my heart up for display and showed everybody where it hurt. Poems I wrote or collected became daily staples to my Xanga. I wrote in a cryptic way about the boy I was crushin’ on knowing full well that only one or two people truly knew who I was talking about but probably almost everyone did. Subtlety was never one of my greatest strengths.

When my first boyfriend of sorts broke my heart, I took my rage out all over Xanga. I typed Yeah Yeah Yeahs lyrics in various large and menacing fonts to illustrate just how pissed I was. It was a place where I could constantly relive each awful moment and break-up all over again. Doing that is so ridiculously unhealthy. The comments my friends left of little hearts (<3) momentarily relieved the pain, but I was connected to, at all times, everything good and bad about my relationships and why I felt like such a failure at them.

Xanga taught me that our need to constantly validate ourselves on the Internet isn’t going to mend a broken heart or even magically help you find the love of your life. I broke up with Xanga almost four years ago. Before deleting it entirely, I gathered every note I wrote and compiled it into a book of sorts; a terrible, for-my-eyes-only kind of book. Sometimes I’ll pull the binder out, dust it off and read a little. I’ve come across happy anniversary notes I forgot I wrote for each year I was on Xanga. I was on it for three years. The relationship I had developed then was not with any one human, but it was with my blog. It’s the one I went to at night to tell my secrets, release my fury, abuse and use again.

Now I see myself in some sort of tango with a man I barely know. The butterflies, the smirks, and the fact that I find almost every single thing these days cute aren't chronicled. And it won’t be. Save for this fleeting comment, my love life stays in my journals where names, places and memories are recorded without the fear that I’m hurting my relationship with my internet boyfriend. With Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Blogspot, and WordPress, I wonder how many other teenage-someone-or-others string their hearts up and expect something in return. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Aaron Patterson

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