i was born in the 2000s - i am not old enough to have experienced the old web. so what sparked my interest in it?
in 2019, i became interested in petz, which is an old series of virtual pet games for pc. i got a copy of petz 5 and immediately got into it! i became involved in the petz community, which has been around longer than i have. ive always loved virtual pet games, and when i was younger i even played the newer petz games, which were created after pf magic (the company behind the original petz games) was acquired by ubisoft.
i noticed that the original petz games were very special - the animations of the petz are unique as they are made up of circles, and there is a ton of customization and user-generated content. you can create your own toys, rooms, clothes, petz, and breedz. i spent a lot of time trawling old angelfire and geocities websites on the wayback machine to find interesting breedz. the community is very active and there are fun things like cat/dog shows, adoption centers, and auction houses. this game opened my eyes to how the internet used to be more focused on self-expression and creativity.
later in 2019, i discovered hypnospace outlaw, a game where there is something called the hypnospace, which is like the 90s internet but people use it while they are asleep. you are a hypnospace enforcer - you search for people who are breaking rules online, like harassing others and infringing copyright.
i found myself ignoring the main story in favor of just looking at different webpages. each character's site was unique and showed their personality and their viewpoint. you can download lots of fun things to your ingame computer like virtual pets, midis, and wallpapers. playing the game i found myself thinking "was the internet really like this? i wish it still was. this is fun." (i still havent finished the game bc the plot requires you to download a virus to your computer and i sometimes have computer virus-centric nightmares. but hey i bought it for the switch and im gonna get to it) i saw that you can create your own hypnospace page in the game and that kind of made me want to make my own website, but ever since i tried to make a minecraft mod at age 10 and failed miserably, i have been terrified of coding. but...
it dawned on me that i have coded before and it was fine. i had been customizing my profiles and forum signatures on virual pet sites for years and i made a tumblr theme (which was a pretty similar shade of pink to this site lol). its not scary at all! but the biggest factor, the final push i needed to actually make my own site, was...
"if you dont repost this youre a terrible person". "if you ship these two anime characters you deserve to die". "dont interact with me if you like this tv show". the internet allows us to connect with millions of people around the world, and instead of using it to connect with people and meet others who share niche interests no one around you in real life has...we use it for fruitless shitty bad faith arguments where the only thing either party walks away with is resentment and anger. it makes me want to dissolve into a puddle of water like the scene from amelie.
every social media platform fucking sucks. you can barely customize anything. the ceaseless arguing and the discourse of the week is encouraged because its engagement and it makes money. twitter is full of godawful takes and nft garbage, and its being run into the ground. reddit is driven by the crappy downvote system and people are dogpiled for not sharing the common opinion or for making a mistake. tiktok is irredeemable. tumblr is almost okay but still plagued by discourse.
ive always wanted something more out of the internet. even though social media was draining and boring, i kept coming back because i was hoping to find something. and when i found a tumblr post talking about the old web and neocities...i found it. i found a place where i can be myself and share whatever i want without conforming to boring, limiting designs or worrying about fitting in. i found a place where i can express my creativity in any way i can imagine, free of widespread arguing, misinformation, and hatred. i took the plunge and created The Chillzone. and i never looked back.