Kathryn Lindsay
May 12, 2016 4:00 am
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I don’t remember a time when there wasn’t the internet. For better or for worse, that means the internet will always remember me. It remembers every AIM screen name I ever had, every piece of Harry Potter fanfiic I ever wrote, every music video my friends and I made and uploaded to YouTube, and every blog post I’ve ever published. Every blog post.

For me, the heyday of blogging was Tumblr. The mish-mash of text posts, pictures, memes, and video, of original and shared content, was the first of its kind. And it was invigorating for a 17-year-old who really wanted to be noticed — not by her peers, but by strangers, as someone intriguing and thoughtful, witty with a good aesthetic, honest and real while at the same time totally untouchable. I curated myself on Tumblr and I filled it with the things that were truly me.

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My posts ranged from the kind of things you’d see on someone’s Facebook in 2009 (“I’m so boredddd”/”I don’t wanna do homework”/ “I LOVE HARRY POTTER”) to raw, emotional diatribes, spilling my emotions in the only place I thought was safe.

At any other time in my life, my peers would have had no interest in my day-to-day thoughts, but at 17, my life was different. I was going through a trainwreck of a breakup that was very public in the halls of our high school, made even more so by my transparency online when I thought no one was looking. And I was sad about it. Very sad. Outwardly, drastically sad in a way that was loud enough to make people watch but too loud for them to see it as anything other than entertainment. I cried in the back of classrooms, made passive aggressive Facebook statuses, and gossiped to the right people knowing that whatever I said wouldn’t be kept a secret. When I was walking through the hallways, I wanted people to know I was hurting. I just didn’t want them to know how much.

Which is why, when I found out someone at school had discovered the link to my Tumblr and passed it around, it felt like my chest had been torn open. I remember two people whispering in my French class before one turned to me and asked, “Do you have a blog?” I remember someone confirming, via text, that the link had been sent around and then standing in Center Court, the area in my high school where all the hallways connected, and grasping for the one friend who already knew about it. “They found my blog,” I said, and then repeated myself after she took me to the guidance counselor, who sat there in silence, because she had no idea what a blog was.

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“So was it private?” the guidance counselor asked. “Did they hack into it?” No, I said. They just found it. To this day I have no idea how anyone found my Tumblr, although I have theories. But it was on the internet, the counselor explained, so it was fair game. Why didn’t I just keep a diary?

As a matter of fact, I did keep a diary. But that was different. The Tumblr was to share my experience and connect with strangers through the feelings we didn’t realize other people felt — and I did. I made a gaggle of internet friends to whom I deposited my secrets. My diary got the things I couldn’t figure out how to articulate but needed to get out. It got movie tickets and notes taped to its pages. It was for me alone. The only similarity between my diary and my Tumblr was that I didn’t want my classmates reading either of them.

I deactivated my blog the day I found out it had been exposed. I went quiet on social media. But I had already lit the fire. My absence made the heart of bullies stronger. Is “bullies” the right word? It sounds so juvenile. But what’s the word for the faceless, nameless person who calls you from behind a restricted number every night at 4a.m. and uses a computerized voice to list all the ways your ex’s new girlfriend is better than you? I wasn’t giving them my secrets on the internet anymore, so they tried to get to me another way. If I rejected the call, they’d leave a message, so I had to quickly answer and end the call to cut them off repeatedly until they gave up. You can’t block restricted numbers.

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I stayed quiet for a while, throughout the remainder of my senior year and into my first year at college. I would still occasionally post on a new Tumblr I had made, filled with pictures and poetry but nothing about me. The fear that someone would find it, that people from college would stumble across it and the whole saga would start again, was too much.

Until, slowly, it wasn’t. My life in college was so drastically different from my life in high school that it allowed me to be an entirely different person, or really, start over as the one I wanted to be. I started writing for the school blog, the admissions blog, my own blog, and now Hello Giggles. Somewhere along this journey I decided that if people wanted to go searching for every dirty detail of my life, I’d make it easy. I’d take back the power and show you before you even asked.

While there are definitely parts of my life that I haven’t, and might never, share with the internet, most anything you want to know about me isn’t just publicly available, but SEO-optimized. I want you to find it. Here‘s what happened after I looked at my boyfriend’s messages. Here‘s what happened when I got an IUD. Here‘s why I’m on medication for anxiety. Here‘s what happens when someone breaks up with me. Here‘s what happens after. If I haven’t written about something, just give me time.

But there’s a bigger reason to open up on the internet: Simply put, people want to read it. Not too much has changed since I was 17. We’re all looking for people who can put into words the things we can’t figure out why we’re feeling. I’ve come across countless pieces of writing online that hurt in all the right places, that spoke to something previously inarticulable. The comfort of the internet is that if you’re feeling something, someone else probably has as well, so why not shout about it? Loud and proud.

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