October 1998 gave birth to a website known as OpenDiary (OD for short). It was a free-to-use site (although pay features would be later added), and one of the earlier versions of real social media (after a few months of its inception, the feature would be added to allow comments on diary entries). Users could remain completely anonymous, or make themselves known. In a way, it was early blogging. Ultimately, OpenDiary would end up hosting over 200,000 diaries, including writers from all seven continents.
In late December 1998, I signed up and launched the first entry to my OD account under the handle of “HollywoodTease” (kudos to anyone who gets the reference). Over the course of the 3 to 4 years I had my account open, I openly chronicled and shared my life. Highs and lows. Peaks and valleys. Relationship topics, recreational activities, and even depression. I wrote with no filter, and was unapologetically honest.
When I began my OD, I was still living in St. Louis. Updates were done regularly up until I left for a nine-month stint at the Excelsior Springs Job Corps Center (of which I’ve previously blogged on here about paranormal activity at that place). While at ESJCC, I didn’t have regular internet access, which I worked around by making arrangements where I typed up my entries and saved them to floppy disk, and then had them uploaded and published on my behalf.
Somewhere after my departure from ESJCC and my full move from St. Louis to Kansas City, other daily life activities picked up, and updating OD became a priority that was placed on the back burner. The site had an activity policy that required any sort of update to be done at least once every 30 days. Eventually, I hit that lapse where I neglected to update within 30 days of the previous entry, and poof – my account was deactivated and deleted. Several years of transparent writings disappeared, and there’s no getting them back. I remember some of what I wrote about during that time – keeping in mind that I didn’t find sobriety until several years after this.
Through the various ups and downs, I owe a lot to OpenDiary. It was an always-available venue for me to unleash anything that was on my mind, without judgment. I formed connections with a number of other writers on the site; several of whom I still keep in contact with. A little over a decade ago, my chapter in OpenDiary had the period added to its final sentence. At midnight last night, the entire OpenDiary book was closed.