My high school experience lived on Xanga. This online journal was our early social media site. My Xanga page no longer exists. I no longer have a record of why friends were fighting or who said what about whom on which day. I have memories of my daily teenage angst, but nothing from my carefully curated publicly placed, private thoughts. I also lost the notes on my early college experiences and the fun ways we connected through blogrings before our first Facebook invites. And contrary to my desire to archive and hoard precious memories, I have decided this is perfect.
Other bits and pieces of my teenage years live somewhere in chatrooms where I thought I was clever, AOL homepages I used for class projects (where I thought I was clever), and a laughable Hotmail address (also clever). But nowhere allowed me to develop in the manner that Xanga did. While I am losing clarity on the details, I do know that my Xanga friends forever shaped my voice. The early community I cultivated responded to me and gave me valuable feedback on the truths I strained to pull from mundane events. I was validated. I was valued. I had a public voice for private events, and a story to share with the world.