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Web Design, Faux Nostalgia, and the Magic of the Internet

NOTE: i am writing this at 2:45 AM and fighting my melatonin, so this isn't going to be the most coherent thing

i'm not quite sure how to start this, but i think it's best to start by saying: i love neocities. i'm young in comparison to some of the people here - i'm only 20 years old (at time of writing) - and i know that i'm sort of living out a nostalgia for something i never actually experienced. the glitter, the pixels, it's all something that's kind of always? felt like home to me. maybe because i gained consciousness around when these things were fading out? i don't know

but the point i think i want to make is that... people critique younger neocities users a lot FOR indulging in this "false nostalgia". for making websites that are simple or a little ugly that emulate the platonic ideal of a classic geocities website. and i feel like discouraging that is kind of disregarding the reason we want to indulge in this in the first place

geocities made the internet more accessible than ever to the common person. someone with no knowledge of code could make their own website, as simple as they like, or as complicated as possible with their limited knowledge and lack of web design prowess, could make a page and just post whatever they wanted. and neocities is kind of doing that for a new generation of internet users

see, i learned html less than 2 weeks ago, at the time of writing this. my website is still simple. a lot of people who were there for Web 1.0 and saw the more interesting personal sites out there would probably call mine boring, or say it looks the same as every other neocities page made by people my age. but the point is that - you shouldn't have to make your page this intense spectacle of javascript or build it in PHP in order to be recognized as unique. because in reality, this section of the internet isn't ABOUT appearances, and i don't think it ever has been. it's about the people behind the pages.

i feel like limiting your view of these websites down to pure aesthetics, whether or not the nostalgia is "authentic" or if the site looks interesting enough, just completely diminishes the REASON these sites all exist, and why everyone gravitated to neocities. what makes these websites unique is what is ON them, and WHY it's on there

if you put, say, my website, next to someone with a similar layout - we're still bound to have two totally different sites when you actually look at them. we have different interests, different opinions, different purposes for MAKING our web page, because we are two totally different people. and that's what makes this all so incredible and magical

i can go to someone's page, and even if it's just an unformatted html file but the text has been changed to ramble about their favorite character, that's UNIQUE. that's a whole other person who took the time to create this, to pour their feelings into these simple lines of code, to share it with the void and wonder vaguely if someone has even seen it. and that's another thing, too - the matter of enjoyment and performance on the internet

in the end, it is YOUR website. you shouldn't feel pressured to "perform" for random people in their late 30s who are upset that "kids today" don't make their websites fancy enough. whether or not you just started to learn html, or if you've been working with it SINCE web 1.0, the internet was never meant to be a place where you had to impress strangers in that way. do you think it looks good? was it fun? then that's all that matters!!

and these people will, in the same breath, claim that they don't actually care how you design your website - just that they think it's boring and annoying, and that you "should" be doing better. that you're co-opting an experience that wasn't yours, or never existed to begin with. but those words nonetheless are going to find some burgeoning web designer who was inspired by simple Web 1.0 websites and be discouraged from creating, in an age where it's easier than ever to do so.

it feels like these criticisms of "faux nostalgia" in web design really just hinder more than they help, i think is what i'm trying to say. the purpose was never who could make the most complicated pretty webpage, but to have a space to share your thoughts in a way you enjoyed - and if a likeminded person from across the world wondered across it, that was just a bonus! the purpose has always been to CREATE and to CONNECT, in some way, with these other people that live in your computer. whether or not your creation is fancy doesn't matter, you CREATED it, and it doesn't change the way you can connect with someone you've never spoken to. THAT'S what neocities - and the internet in general - is about.

to-do:
-take pics for cherished teddies collection page
-lay out other pages
-make pixels for containers