Neopets Paved the Way [Content Made Simple]
Issue #232: The world of Roblox, exploring hyperpop, and more.
How Neopets Paved the Road to the Metaverse
When Neopets launched, Mark Zuckerberg was 15. He wouldn’t create “The Facebook” in his Harvard dorm room for another five years. Myspace was still four years away. David Fincher’s film The Social Network was over a decade away.
Neopets was a social network before “social networks” were a thing. Forums, direct messages, and friend lists were key Neopets features. “Neoboards” were hubs of social activity, with conversation topics ranging far beyond Neopets-related subject matter.
Kids were thrilled to meet people online. Parents were terrified. For millions, Neopets was their first taste of the social internet.
I have read this article two or three times now. I love it so much. I came across it a few weeks ago and have forgotten to include it in the newsletter until now. My wife Susie and I talk about Neopets from time to time and how formative it was for us (more her than me) in our adolescent years. This is a great piece on how Neopets really set the stage for a number of the newest, most prevalent developments hitting the social internet today.
**Programming note: I have moved this newsletter to Thursdays and am planning to write original content on Tuesdays rather than Mondays moving forward. Just an FYI if you happened to be a bit confused on the timing of this.
HITTING THE LINKS
Link #1: We All Have “Main Character Energy” Now
I have tweeted a bit about how we’re all kinda narcissists today and like to see ourselves as the main character of a movie that is our lives, but I haven’t written about it at length. This is a good piece in that vein.
[“Main character energy”] describes any situation in which a person is making herself the center of attention, the crux of a particular narrative, as if cameras were trained on her and her alone. The term can be used appreciatively, acknowledging a form of self-care—putting yourself first—or as an accusation, a calling out of narcissism: a person dressing too extravagantly for a casual event, for example, is trying to be the main character. Main-character moments are those in which you feel ineffably in charge, as if the world were there for your personal satisfaction.
Link #2: Beauty and Solace in Abandoned Roblox Spaces
Some really beautiful writing in this essay. A fascinating, almost Thoreau-ian perspective of a digital space.
Even now, being online is to watch history accumulate in real time. Every timeline suggests a timeline of yesterday, or of the day before yesterday, all stacked in layers and stored neatly in a server farm somewhere until that particular service collapses under the weight, subjecting internet historians to a panicked flurry of attempted archival activity before all records disappear into screenshots and fuzzy memories.
Link #3: The Brash, Exuberant Sounds of Hyperpop
I first heard of hyperpop last year and as someone who likes a wide variety of music genres, I decided to give it a try. I hated what I heard. Upon reading this wonderful piece of writing, I thought I’d give it a second chance. I am now hooked. Hyperpop feels sorta like a genre of music that was made for someone like me. Fascinating write-up on it here.
The Internet has a tendency to transform subcultures into popular culture at a disorienting rate. Spotify’s hyperpop playlist is a curious case: its success has shown how corporate entities not only glom onto cultural waves but also become instrumental in shaping their identities.
THE FUNNY PART
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Neopets. Wow. I can't remember if it was me going out of town or my friend, but one of us asked the other if they could check in on their lil guys while they were on a trip. Weird times.
Also, that main character story. That was an interesting write-up. Couldn't tell which way it was going at first, not going to lie.