With this whole book club business, I’m trying to give you something a little different, beyond I LUV THIS BOOK IT’S GR8. (FYI, I do ‘luv’ this book and it really is ‘gr8’ though). I’m not the best at writing a thousand words on plots and character development, so instead, I wanna give you some added extras. Because I’m nothing if not excellent value.
In my previous Book Club post, I shared a Q&A with the author of Lying In Wait, Liz Nugent – and this time round, I’ll be relating Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete to some of my own social media stories.
Honestly, I’m not sure where my life starts and the internet ends. I have a job that I wouldn’t have without my blog. I met the majority of my friends online in some form.
Ctrl Alt Delete
First up – the book itself. I’ve loved reading Emma’s blog, Girl Lost In The City, since…I don’t even remember when. I haven’t pre-ordered a book since…probably the last Harry Potter (original, obviously) but I knew I had to get my paws on this one ASAP.
In case you didn’t know already, Ctrl Alt Delete chronicles growing up with the internet – something most of us twentysomethings (and beyond, and below) can easily relate to. Insightful, occasionally relatably cringe-inducing and incredibly candid, Emma tells her stories with a wonderful openness and a lot of heart. From chatting to boys on MSN to modern-day internet dating, to how her intertwinement (is that a word? Is now) with the interweb led her to building her own career path on her own terms. It’s inspiring and heartwarming, and a total must-read for anyone who grew up online. Or, y’know, anyone who likes reading good writing.
There are some bigger messages touched on beyond just the personal too. In particular, the conversation she creates around self-presentation is incredibly interesting. Writing about how photo editing apps became such a big part of her life is an exploration of developing personal image online – a bit of a hot topic in current times.
So much of the book just really struck a chord with me – from meeting boys on the internet, talking for hours online to my friends. It definitely took me back to a lot of my own experiences growing up to the soundtrack of a dial up connection.
I was a Teenage…Content Creator
My first real experience with ‘content creating’ on the internet was over at good ol’ Geocities. Yep, remember them? It was pretty darn revolutionary at the time – anyone could make a website with little knowledge of how to do it, and throw their thoughts, knowledge and obsessions out there for the world to see. My obsession? Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The obvious thing to do was create a FAN SITE, and thus, The Magic Box was born. I know, original name right? (I’m making it up to you with a vague Against Me! section header reference).
Then came LiveJournal. Oh, LiveJournal. What would an emo teen have done without you to broadcast all their problems and worries on. Someone from My Chemical Romance has a new girlfriend? Mum won’t let me buy J17 cause I’m not 17? Somewhere, sitting on my LiveJournal from it’s very early days, is a no-holds-barred diary of basically every little thing that happened in my head. From heartbreak to that really good pizza I had, tucked away somewhere is a wonderfully cringe-inducing feed of my teenage years. Perhaps one day I’ll share it…
Meeting my best friend on Myspace
Aka stalking my future best friend on Myspace like the creepy 17 year old I was (and the creepy 28 year old I probably still am).
I’d never actually really had a proper ‘best friend’ before. I mean, I’d had a group of ten girls at school who I’d hang out with daily and try and chat to hot local boys on MSN with. But a real, bona fide bestie?
We argued. We cried together. We changed the lyrics of Bowling For Soup songs to be about the boys who broke our hearts at the time. We went for tattoos and piercings together, swapped clothes, cut the bottoms of our tights off so we could be cool at Norwich Waterfront. We practiced our poses for the ultimate Myspace profile pictures.
Although we now live in different cities, have new friendship circles and have learnt to take photos from a more acceptable angle, that bond will always be there.
And just this weekend, I witnessed her marry the love of her life. Thanks, internet. You done good.
One of the things on the internet that I cottoned on to pretty quickly was the existence of internet forums – places where I could find other people who liked the things I did. My first foray into the forum world was the now defunct TeenToday forums. We pretty much talked everything from school and college to political debate, with a whole load of nonsense thrown in for good measure. I actually still have a couple of people from TeenToday on Facebook. My oldest internet mates.
Back when I was 18 and my boyfriend had dumped me and I had no one to go to Download Festival with, I decided on a whim to sign up to the festival forums and ended up camping with a group of strangers from the internet. Sorry Mum. It was pretty much one of the best decisions I ever made – ten years on, I still talk to my forum mates on a pretty much daily basis. We meet up all around the country, go to gigs. It’s been somewhere that long-term relationships have been formed – even resulting in weddings and babies – and amazing friendships have been made. Every year, I’ll go to the festival, not just for the music, but to see so many people I love all in one place.
One of the biggest impacts that little router over there in the corner has had on my life? Blogging. I’ve always documented my life on the internet in some way or another, but it wasn’t until this one that I finally felt like I had a place my words could call home. I may not be the most inspiring or exciting writer at times, I may not have thousands of followers or millions viewing my site every month. But I get to create, share and push myself into making blog posts I love, will view for years to come. And heck, if it touches or improves the life of one reader, I’ll take that as a win.
Thanks to blogging, I now have a dream job in travel marketing and social media that I bloody love. I have a group of incredible women I’m honoured to call my friends, just a WhatsApp group message away. I can peek into people’s worlds, look at wonderful pictures, read words that make me want to get out there and be the most ‘me’ I can possibly be. And when the online goes offline? Ctrl Alt Delete is exactly that.
Find that spare tenner you were going to spend on wine and buy Ctrl Alt Delete RIGHT NOW.