mariversary: Thinking About Neocities
April 1st, 2018 was the day I made my Neocities account.
My life was a hell of a lot different back then. I was in full NEET mode from taking a gap year, horribly insecure and isolated, and Neocities became my last hope for being interested in anything creative whatsoever. I wasn't writing; I certainly wasn't making music; I was doing a bit of level design, but that'd only last another two months before I gave up on that too. I was friends with very different, miserable people. It wore me out.
I've been making sites since I was about 7 years old. I made Freewebs sites on just about anything I could think of back then. Web design has been a thing I've always sorta been interested in, and the thought of free web hosting with this community, a camaraderie around creation and fun, seemed like a bang-up idea. I was hooked. My first site was made in three days, and I hopped into the old unofficial Neocities Discord the day I made my account.
Pretty quickly, Neocities lost its luster. No one ever tells you the site's filled with dumb little kids. No one ever tells you how boring the vast majority of the sites are. No one ever tells you everyone on it is perpetually fucking lazy and narcissistic. Nothing about the site, from the clunky interface to the fact that the head asshole is absentee, fosters community. It's still set up like a social media site, which means shallow shit and frequent updates draws eyeballs over interesting content. I was demoralized.
Naturally, I did what I did best at the time: I started fucking with people.
Really, though, that's only half the story. People forget that I too had a site, with content not too dissimilar to what now resides here on Somnolescent. People forget that I liked just plain talking to people. Sure, I was quick to irritate, but other times, I was downright pleasant and talkative. There was always more to me than fucking around and insulting people, and I'd soon forget that myself.
It was sometime in June that I took a month's break from Neocities. While I enjoy a good autistic slapfight, I wasn't exactly fond of having one every single day, each with a different tard. I could be better than that, I thought. I still kept in contact with a few people, notably future Somnolian dotcomboom, who I'm honestly surprised stuck around given the perpetual tornado surrounding me.
Things never got much better. I quickly went back to looking for laughs in between being aggravated at dumb shit and became pretty well-known for my distaste of the platform with a couple of essays I wrote on lazy site design and how Neocities encourages mediocrity. Somehow, the only people more stirred up than me were the ones that took those as personal attacks, and yes, there were more than a few.
I cared too much and knew it was pointless at the same time. I'd resigned myself to being a Discord troll and winding up runaways with bad taste and illiterate slimeball perverts for whatever that was worth. A longtime friendship with my best friend, a girl who later gave our private emails to a stalker (the one featured on my track "Kaden") was collapsing. I had nothing better to do, and nowhere better to go, really.
That's when I met Capy.
We met each other in passing over Discord. I just thought she was that nice guinea pig girl at the time; I remember her liking some of my updates before my first hiatus and wondering what business she had with a dickhead like me. She struck up a conversation in DMs; I later learned she never did that. Pretty soon, we were around each other all the time.
It just seemed so wild to me: here was a girl about my age who could hold a good conversation, was super talented, had a cool site, joined in my shitposting, and was supportive of me like my former friend was notoriously not. I let her into my little fucked up world, and she started showing me bits of hers. We learned we were a lot more like each other than expected.
Capy reminded me I was a creator, first and foremost, but also, that I had worth. I made stuff, and the stuff I made had merit. This Discord shit wasn't worth it, but the reaction I got from a story or song I wrote absolutely was. I didn't have to be a sad asshole on the internet forever. I didn't have to take whatever came my way from people who called themselves friends and offered me absolutely nothing but abuse.
After Districts, the site directory I started and organized, went the way of Centralia, I stopped showing up on Neocities. I'd built up a sizable group of people who were obsessed with me, people with so little going on in their lives that they built up this mythology around me, that of a cult leader who's brainwashed people into being my friends because I'm just that evil. I've been sent retarded memes and drawings of my sona being brutalized alike. Capy and I still get brought up, despite neither of us being active on the site.
Meanwhile, we've been writing, creating, growing closer to each other. One need only look at her badger gallery for proof of it. Just as she helped me out of a very angry slump, I kept her from giving up and running off. I've gotten stronger as a writer; she's gotten stronger as an artist. I dropped a new album just today. If I was still on Neocities, wading through the vitriol people still have for me for making fun of their site once, I probably wouldn't have any of it.
I think if I had to pick anything I've learned from all this, it's to not take the internet too seriously, and hold onto the things that actually excite you and the people who inspire you. Don't take shit off people and know when to quit. Sometimes, it's for the best.
There's still a little mari in me that wants to make fun of dumb shit, but my mistake really was letting it consume my life instead of focusing on what actually made me happy. It was only after I cut off all the fucking awful people I was around (of which there were many) that I got a sense of perspective, and I don't miss a single one of them for it.
People on Neocities have described me as an egomaniac, pretentious, and hate-filled, but frankly, I don't see them dropping albums. Or having girlfriends.
I think I won out.