It’s day three of the blogging challenge! Today I am tackling #21 on the 30-day blog challenge list, which is to talk about a website that has impacted my life.
While I rarely visit this website anymore, GaiaOnline.com is a website that has greatly impacted my life. I joined it in early 2004, a few months after my best friend joined and introduced it to me; I think I was 12. Back in those days, Gaia was an online community that was built mainly in discussion forums, and it wasn’t called “GaiaOnline.” When I joined it, it was “go-gaia.com,” which I remember being set up to be an “anime roleplaying community.” This name change is only the smallest of changes that have occurred over the years.
When I first joined, the community wasn’t that large. I remember getting to know “regulars” by their usernames, and I could name all of the admins. At that time, the website was grounded in a set of faulty servers, and I remember getting frustrated by the number of times the site would crash. Users would learn tricks for changing servers and repeatedly attempt to get back on the site – we were very determined to log back on.
I also remember making many online friends. This website taught me how to use the Internet to communicate my ideas. It also taught me how to be literate in those communications. When I first joined, I remember I was an awful typist and spoke primarily in acronyms/chat lingo. Sometimes I go back through those old posts and laugh. Over time, I learned not only how to type well, but to also form complete sentences and spell out my words. I became forum “literate.”
Even though it dubbed itself as an “anime roleyplaying community,” I didn’t spend as much time in those types of forums. I remember discussing pop culture, life topics, and things related to the world of Gaia. I loved those discussions, and I would look forward to logging in every day after school. Around 10th grade, reality took over, and I began to log in less often.
Today, the website still has many forums, but well over 26 million users, which is very overwhelming for a person like myself who rarely visits the site anymore. GaiaOnline today is more about gaining “gold” for objects and fulfilling random games and quests. While these quests and games can be fun, I’ve felt the website has moved far from the sense of community it once focused on to developing itself as a brand. In fact, it even had a Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale this, something that, once upon a time, would not have happened.
Though the site has grown and changed in many ways, I do find myself returning now and then. Some of the friends I made years ago are still friends I communicate with regularly, though I have not met any of them in person.
Even though I’ve went through several computers since 2004, I still have the website bookmarked. On a rainy day, now and then, I log in and try to communicate with some new members. I still make friends there, though the friendships I made years ago have remained the strongest.
What website(s) have impacted your life and why? Let me know in the comments section below.