For Some Reason, These Awesome Famous People Are Being Awesome, Together.

I hope you’re sitting down, because your face it about to be full of so much awesome you’ll forget how to stand.

Okay, that might be an overstatement, but there is a lot of awesome going on here. This Tumblr user find pictures of all your favorite celebrities hanging out together.

Sometimes the celebrities are a well-known group of famous friends. For the most part, though, you’ll be scratching your head, wondering how these awesome people ever got in the same room with each other. (I had no idea Jack White and Buzz Aldrin had anything in common.)

1. Jack White and Buzz Aldrin

2. Eartha Kitt and James Dean

3. Jennifer Lawrence and Larry David

4. The Brady Bunch and the Jackson Five

5. Shaquille O’Neal and Bill Gates

6. Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart

7. Axl Rose and David Bowie

8. Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellan

9. George Harrison and Eric Idle

10. KISS and Tupac Shakur

11. Carrie Fisher and Han Solo

12. Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger

13. Elizabeth Taylor and James Deen

14. Jim Parsons and Rihanna

15. Jack Nicholson and The Monkees

16. Richard Nixon and Robocop

17. Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner

18. Meryl Streep and Hillary Rodham Clinton

19. Amy Poehler and Joe Biden

20. Run DMC and Weird Al

21. Barack Obama and Beyconcé and Jay Z.

22. Russell Brand and the Dalai Lama

23. James Brown and Bono

24. Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox

25. Ben Schwartz and Max Greenfield

26. Hugh Hefner and Doris Day

27. Dean Martin and John Wayne

28. Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway and Paul Newman

29. Paul McCartney and Zooey Deschanel

30. Groucho Marx and George Carlin

31. Harpo Marx and Amelia Earhart

32. Yoko Ono, Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minneli, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston

33. Andy Warhol and Salvador Dalí

34. Martin Luther King Jr. and Marlon Brando

35. Leonardo DiCaprio and Stevie Wonder

36. Eric Clapton and Bill Murray

37. Dave Chapelle and Maya Angelou

38. John Travolta and Princess Diana

39. Christopher Walken and Anthony Bourdain

40. Eleanor Roosevelt and Lucille Ball

Double the awesome, double the fun. You can check out more over on the blog and even submit your own finds. Share this gallery with your friends by clicking the button below. They’ll never believe you if you just tell them about these pictures.

Read more: http://viralnova.com/awesome-people-hanging-out/

Books, New York, And The Internet: A Love Story

A tale of life in the city, 14 years in publishing, and embracing technology to save the culture you love.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

There was a time in the predigital age, a time before e-readers and tablets and mobile phone apps, when taking an entry-level publishing job was like signing on to fight a war against paper. Back in the days when book publishers killed trees and prospective authors’ dreams with equal abandon, there would be territory battles for access to that one Xerox machine on the 11th floor that jammed less frequently than the other ones. There were “It’s not you, it’s me” letters to be written and mailed back to literary agents along with scads of rejected book proposals. There were faxes to be sent and received, legal-size contracts to be filed, and pink perforated phone messages to be recorded and disbursed. There were copyedits to shepherd, reams of marked-up pages that smelled of coffee or whiskey or baby vomit, depending on the current life stages of both author and editor. There was so much mail. There were piles upon piles of manuscript pages to be collated and read and evaluated beneath unforgiving fluorescent lights, and ensuing headaches caused by eye strain and recycled air and too much Diet Coke.

I grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey, the area Springsteen sang so many songs about leaving, but I never felt an urgency to flee my hometown. I certainly never had my heart set on becoming a New Yorker. It was those damn headaches that felt like they were my birthright. Like most New Yorkers I know, I am happiest when things are awful. I find joy in seeking out wonderful ways to be miserable, so it only made sense that I was drawn to the glamorous world of book publishing. Those headaches, and all the crazy hours and adorable little paychecks that accompanied them, made me feel alive. I loved those headaches. I was privileged — literally — to be able to experience those headaches (thanks for the safety net, Mom and Dad!). Those headaches meant that I had found my place in the world, alongside equally masochistic and idealistic people who loved to read as much as I did and who were prepared to sacrifice emotional and financial stability in order to turn their love of reading into a career. In other words, my colleagues were as crazy as I was, in the best possible way.

I blame George Plimpton. I met him at the very first swanky publishing party I ever attended, at a townhouse on the Upper East Side. I was drinking wine that didn’t come from a box and was feeling very optimistic about my future prospects. And then there he was, the New York literary legend. I bravely approached Mr. Plimpton to introduce myself, and he said he was delighted to meet me, and perhaps he was more focused on checking out my breasts than on our conversation. Talking to him was so exciting! Degrading too, of course, but also very exciting. Just like the publishing industry!

I blame Chloë Sevigny too. I look back now on The Last Days of Disco and realize that the film finds many uncomfy parallels between an outmoded style of music and nightlife and the book publishing industry. Dinosaurs, both. But gosh, Chloë made it all look so fun and stylish.

I especially blame Margaret Atwood and Lorrie Moore and Susan Sontag and Charles freaking Dickens. I blame Toni Morrison and Roald Dahl and all the uncelebrated ghostwriters known collectively as “Francine Pascal” for the Sweet Valley High series. And yes, I blame Joan Didion. It was the idea of eventually working with writers like those that made me feel OK about the countless hours I spent, in the meantime, editing books that weren’t uniformly thrilling. I relished the thankless coordinating I did for ghostwritten celebrity tell-alls, and I didn’t mind babysitting a bunch of self-help authors, who were notoriously the least self-actualized nutcases on the planet. Those books were the reality TV shows of the book biz, the ones that would appeal to the masses and thereby finance the riskier, more thought-provoking books that I might one day publish to great acclaim. Because there was always the chance that somewhere buried in the slush pile, I’d find… blah blah blah. You get it, no need for me to fill in the details. Let’s just say I had visions of National Book Awards, lifelong friendships with authors I’d edited, and stimulating parties filled with people who’d engage in watercooler talk about a newly published literary novel like it was the latest greatest show on HBO. I remember that when I acquired my first book as an assistant editor — a subversively funny story collection by an up-and-coming superstar — I received a congratulatory email from a senior editor I’d been crushing on. I think I skipped down Sixth Avenue that day.

I chose to make a life for myself in the epicenter of the book publishing world, the one place in the United States where performing menial tasks every day ultimately gave me a great sense of purpose. By choosing publishing, I also chose New York City. I chose to share a railroad-style apartment with three other women, scurrying like a mouse through our connected rooms alongside the actual mice that were scurrying through them. I chose to live in a location where mundane items became unimaginable luxuries: a dishwasher, a porch, a yard, a car, a washer/dryer in one’s home. A supermarket. A Target where the women’s apparel hasn’t been thoroughly picked over. I chose summers that smelled of hot garbage and winters so icy that it was barely possible to slink over to the corner bodega without falling on your ass numerous times.

But New York was like the free bookshelf by the ladies’ room at the office: There was a lot of unwanted crap stacked on those shelves, but there was often a gem or two to be found if you were motivated enough to dig around. There were endless possibilities. Dinner might be a rubber-banded container from the deli across the street where the entire salad bar was 50 percent off after 5 p.m., but then dessert could be a glass of champagne at a debut novelist’s launch party. An acrid-smelling misogynist could proselytize about the impropriety of your attire on the subway, but the train itself would be speeding toward some moment of transcendent beauty, even if it was just a publishing assistant sing-along at some Koreatown karaoke bar.

The problem with choosing an identity and a lifestyle that’s tied to a particular profession is, of course, that you must rely on job security for a sense of self-worth. In 2008 I left the corporation where I’d slowly but surely been making a name for myself for five years in order to take a job at a smaller publisher where ideally I’d have more authority — or at least fewer phones to answer. Four months into the job, my division was sold, and I lost my job. It was the worst breakup I’d ever experienced. I was a spurned lover, frantically trying to figure out what was left of me if my beloved had rejected me. What made me me if I wasn’t a book editor? Being unemployed in New York City in the springtime should’ve been somewhat enjoyable. The city was alive and I had the time to take it all in! I was receiving unemployment checks, after all, and poverty wasn’t imminent. But that season felt like one long panic attack, made worse by the fact that I felt overwhelmingly stressed about not being able to just relax and enjoy myself. This, as many neurotic and/or driven people know, is a vicious cycle.

After a string of desperate dates (informational interviews, really — it turned out my layoff coincided with an economic crisis that led to mass consolidation in the publishing world), I found a vaguely book-related position at a startup and I snapped it up. I spent years at that damn job, watching from afar as former contemporaries climbed their respective corporate ladders and became forces in the publishing field. I was jealous and frustrated, and so, as many others have done before and will continue to do, I took to the internet.

I had spent years trying to help others find their own distinctive voices, and I was amazed to find that I could help myself in the same way. It turned out I didn’t need stationery or a corporate card or a fancy job title in order to take part in New York book culture. And I didn’t need a book deal in order to be a writer. I didn’t even need to consider myself to be a writer in order to be a writer. “Serious” writerly types might bemoan the detrimental effect that social media have on productivity or creativity, but one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done was to start a silly Tumblr blog called Slaughterhouse 90210 on a whim. I was bored at work and a friend suggested that I create a blog featuring some of my favorite quotes from literature — I had thousands. But quotes alone weren’t fun. I realized that if I juxtaposed quotes from books I loved with images from TV shows, my blog posts would be entertaining and provide unique commentary.

Slaughterhouse 90210 was singularly mine. I could never be fired from it! My blog gave me a platform to become a writer and critic and performer, encouraged by the literary community I found on Tumblr. I was inspired by all my newfound Bookternet friends — readers, writers, bloggers, booksellers, publishing world types, and fellow refugees. You certainly didn’t have to live in New York City to take part in the discussion. But it sure was fun getting to know some of these new friends in real life. There are an abundance in this city.

A fundamental tenet of society at large is that book readings are supposed to be boring. Why would anyone want to spend an evening glistening to some pretentious twerp drone on and on? How many tiny plastic cups of cheap chardonnay would one have to drink not to mind when a creep in the back row asks the reader intensive questions about the creative process? Or if he has more of a comment than a question? One of the most magical things about New York is that readings are not boring here. On any given night, there are at least three or four literary events taking place in New York, and thanks to great curation and a high level of passion among event planners, at least two or three of them will be delightful. I can walk into any one of an amazing collection of local bookstores and know that I’ll be inspired and entertained, and that I’ll have a friend or two in the audience. I love that. As highly esteemed experts have been saying for many years, book publishing is undergoing many technological shifts. It’s in a constant state of flux. But literary culture, especially in New York City, is alive and well and essential.

Life is sometimes shitty. I don’t ascribe the shittiness of life to New York, maybe because I don’t really know any other way of adult life, so I have little to compare it to. I ascribe my bouts of unhappiness to being a person who sometimes has difficulty relaxing and taking it all in. Betrayals and heartache and injustices take place everywhere, and loneliness is pervasive. But reading and being on the internet and living in New York City are simultaneously solitary and intensely social activities. Somehow sitting on the couch in my apartment in Greenpoint, all alone with a book, I feel surrounded by friends.

***

Maris Kreizman is the creator of Slaughterhouse 90210, a blog and soon-to-be book (Flatiron Books, 2015) that celebrates the intersection of her two great loves–literature and TV. She’s currently a publishing community manager at Kickstarter. A former book editor, Maris cannot get enough of critiquing her own writing.

Excerpted from Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakable Love for New York edited by Sari Botton, published by Touchstone, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Copyright © 2014 by Sari Botton. Reprinted with permission.

For more information about Never Can Say Goodbye, click here.

Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mariskreizman/skipping-down-sixth-avenue

How I Grew Up On The Internet

The internet is IRL. It always has been.

I started navigating the internet — really, the earliest versions of social media — early in my life, and before most people even really knew what the internet was. I was 11 when I first logged on in 1993 — I’m 32 now — and I’ve spent the ensuing years invested in online communities at least as much as I’m invested in offline ones. I never understood there to be a clear line between the two. Before I ever even had a cell phone, I used the social web to document and reflect on my offline life. I’ve met wonderful people online, connected in much deeper ways to the friends I had, and I’ve used dozens of networks and platforms to figure myself out. The internet hasn’t been a way to escape, it’s been a creative outlet, a friend, a documentarian, and a tool that has made my real life better, cooler, weirder, and more fun. For me, the internet isn’t some distinct virtual universe, it’s just one part of the real world.

This is the history of my first 20 years online. It’s a happy story.

When I was 9, my parents chose to homeschool my older brother, Mitch, and me out of frustration with public school. I had just finished third grade and he, fifth. We were both doing fine academically, but my mom felt like our personalities were changing. My brother often came home from school depressed, and we started to complain about things like reading that we had loved before. Mom and Dad hated the focus on standardized testing, and felt that our teachers didn’t appreciate the creative curiosity they treasured.

A couple years into the great homeschooling experiment, we moved temporarily from Austin, Texas, a hippie college town with a growing secular homeschooling community, to Arlington, Virginia. I missed home and I had trouble making new friends in the Christian homeschool group there.

My brother Mitch on our Macintosh computer in the mid-’80s.

That was when Mitch told me about BBSes (Bulletin Board Systems) and saved me from my boredom and social isolation. BBSes were local networks where we could read and write on message boards, chat live, and play games. We were lucky enough to have the magic formula: a PC, a 2400-baud modem, and a second phone line. My dad had always been fascinated by gadgets — he’d bought us our (and the!) first Macintosh in 1984, when I was just two years old. The iconic modem sound that began any trip to my favorite BBSes still makes me feel urgently stoked. That sound means I’m about to arrive at the best party ever, and I still get to wear my pajamas.

I tried a few BBSes, but I quickly became devoted to one in particular called “International House of Kumquats.” IHOK was run by a chill teenager who went by the handle Surrealistic Pickle. I felt at home there. Everyone was young and smart and cool and they immediately became my friends. (Since the BBS was on a local phone number, I knew we all lived in the D.C. area.) I never really thought much about the fact that we had “met online” — the concept was too new to feel dorky or taboo yet.

The average age of people on the board was probably about 16, while I was only 12. “Star Shadow,” my earnest choice of an alias, was a dead giveaway that I was the youngest person on the board. Still, I fit in fine. The kids on IHOK shared my enthusiasm for the band They Might Be Giants and we discussed them constantly, dissecting lyrics and debating best songs. We also talked about our lives and anxieties, we made up recurring inside jokes, we quoted our favorite movies and TV shows, and recommended books. We developed real friendships.

Within a few months, Surrealistic Pickle made me a co-sysop (system operator), the official duties of which were slight enough that I don’t actually remember what they were, but I still listed it on all of my teenage resumes. It was the first time that anyone had put semiprofessional faith in me, and it was done purely because of the value of my contributions, without a thought given to my being a girl, a weird homeschooler, or an actual child.

When my mom first agreed to let me meet my friends in person, she dropped me off at the National Mall but then parked a few blocks away with a stack of books and an eye on our activities. Looking back, I’m amazed that the teenagers from the board didn’t tease me for my mom literally watching over us, and I’m equally grateful she was open to the idea at all. We couldn’t share photos on the BBS, so the first time I met my board mates IRL was the first time I saw them at all. That part seems weird now, but it didn’t feel strange at the time. We already knew each other’s sense of humor, feelings, opinions, and personalities — the rest was just wrapping paper.

A few months later, I went to my first ever show with my BBS buddies: NRBQ and They Might Be Giants (obviously) at Wolf Trap in Virginia. The Kumquat crew were splayed out on picnic blankets on the grassy hills. They were Manic Panic-ed, glasses-wearing, and trench-coated teenagers who probably didn’t fit in at high school. They were all, more than any other quality, ridiculously nice. I thought they were the coolest people in the world.

Cool “Lion King” button + Slurpee T-shirt.

I was having an awkward adolescence. I liked talking to my parents way more than I liked anyone my own age. I wanted to have deep, intelligent conversations about my interests, which were Disney animated movies (I collected Lion King merchandise), horses, and cute boys. Not, for the most part, things that grown-ups actually wanted to talk to me about.

Luckily, Prodigy existed. Prodigy was a dialup service that predated widespread use of the World Wide Web. Like its competitor, America Online, Prodigy contained multitudes: shopping, news, weather, games, advice columns, and more. I was only interested in connecting with people, so I used the live chat, email, and discussion boards.

I joined a message board where other girls like me had invented an elaborate role playing game for made-up horses — we each “owned” dozens of fake horses, gave them names and attributes, and pitted them against each other in entirely arbitrary competitions that were just decided by whoever was running them. I kept my horse files in a giant binder full of descriptions like this:

People who I tried to explain the game to didn’t understand it at all. It wasn’t until I was introduced to the concept of fantasy sports a decade later that I thought maybe this all wasn’t as strange as I feared.

I was even more involved with the Disney Fans Bulletin Board, which was populated mostly by grown men and women who retained their interest in all things Disney well past the age when most people grow out of it. I loved them. Many of my DFBB cohorts lived and worked in Orlando, just because it meant that they got to go to Disney World whenever they wanted. To me, they were living the ultimate adulthood dream.

I got so involved with the Disney board that I was eventually given a “job.” The job paid me in a free Prodigy subscription and one free t-shirt. My title was “Teens Liaison,” and I did just that: liaised with other teens. Although most of the community was much older , I developed raging crushes on the handful of boys my age. I can still remember, in fine detail, a photo one of them sent me of himself dressed up as Prince Eric for Halloween. I had several Prodigy flirtations before I had figured out the slightest thing about talking to boys I knew offline. We talked about our feelings, which was impossible with the teenage boys I knew in “real” life. I was myself with the dudes of Prodigy — open and honest and weird — and they liked me for it.

I eventually met my Prodigy friends in real life too. My parents planned a trip to Disney World, mostly for my obsessive benefit, and let me bring my best friend, another homeschooler named Kate. I dragged Kate and my mom to a meetup dinner with the DFBB group at a fancy Disney-themed restaurant. Almost all of the attendees were closer to my mom’s age than to mine, but we had fun anyway. I got a purple tie-dyed DFBB staff T-shirt that I wore proudly to the park the next day. Soon after our meeting, people started to leave Prodigy for the wider world of the web, and I followed.

Editing my “Lady and the Tramp” fan site with a stack of Disney encyclopedias, 1995.

I made my first website in 1995, when I was 13, and it was dedicated to my favorite movie, Lady and the Tramp. It started with a short introduction: “I’m here to provide the major source of Lady information on the World Wide Web.” The page included an archive of tiny photos I’d been able to dig up or scan, random facts I’d strung together from my collection of Disney books, the title of the movie translated into several other languages, a character list, quotes, and the movie’s credits, transcribed from my own VHS copy.

I taught myself HTML to make the page, borrowing books from the library and reading tutorials online. Once I made the Lady and the Tramp page, I was hooked. I started expanding my website to include biographical information about me, terrible things I’d written, pictures of my friends, and more.

By 1999, the earliest date that the web archive has for my site, it was basically a magazine. It included:

  • A 14-part “about me” section

  • Thousands of words devoted to describing each of my friends. Example: “Lots of people will tell you that I’m obsessed with Dorothy and you might say that’s true — I just happen to think she’s one of tha most beautiful, funniest girlies in that whole wide world. :-)”

  • Pages devoted to my opinions on religion, animal rights, curfews, Bill Clinton, and legalizing marijuana

  • A list of reasons that you should go vegetarian

  • A description of my imaginary perfect boyfriend, Jimmy Tony

  • Dozens of poems I’d written

  • My “future encyclopedia entry,” including the career description “writer, artist, entrepreneur, animal handler, actress, philosopher”; the titles of several of my future books about Shakespeare and hip-hop; details of the company I would found someday; the many books I would write; and my partnership with my imaginary husband Jimmy

  • A daily journal cataloguing the mundane details of my life

  • Book reviews

  • Comics I made with Photoshop

  • “Summer’s Spiffy Sendable Celebs,” a collection of about 30 e-postcards I made of my favorite celebrities

  • Capsule reviews of every episode of Dawson’s Creek

  • Commentary on my favorite songs and a list of my favorite CDs

  • A “shrine” celebrating Ani DiFranco

  • A collection of my favorite jokes

  • Desktop photos of celebrities and animals that I’d edited and made available to my “public”

  • An elaborate, multisectioned fan page for the character Ophelia from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, including artwork, personal essays, historical information, and more

  • A lengthy acknowledgments section that thanked AltaVista, my scanner, my entire extended family, friends, and all of my pets

Making websites was my primary mode of self-expression throughout my teens, and it was also a huge part of my mostly autodidactic education. Over the years, my family’s approach to our education had grown increasingly radical, buoyed by the writings of “unschooling” proponents such as John Holt and Grace Llewellyn. I chose what to focus on and how to spend my time based on my goals, with fairly minimal oversight from my parents. My website became an obsession, and I had all the time in the world to devote to it. Most of the other creative things I did — drawing pictures, writing bad poems, and composing essays — were in the service of making a cool-as-hell website.

A version of my website layout, featuring a dog I found on the street and kept for two days.

Although my site wasn’t part of any specific social platform, there was an informal but intense network of teenage and young adult women doing the same thing I was, and we joined web rings, made link lists, and sent each other fan mail. I kept up with tons of other website makers, almost all of them women: from JenniCam to one gothy girl who I only remember as “Calliope.” I learned from them. I studied their source codes for HTML tips, copied their brooding photography styles, listened to bands they mentioned in passing, started taking moody selfies like theirs, and tried hard to impress them with endless tweaks and new features on my website. To some extent, I lived my life with my website in mind — do it for the dot-com! — but this was a good thing: It made me more creative, thoughtful, and adventurous.

Creating my own elaborate websites about myself was outrageously, hilariously narcissistic in hindsight. But building my own sites gave me the ability to tell people who I was in a way that I could control. It also allowed me to look at myself in a positive way, something that was missing when I looked in the mirror. I liked the me I was on the web. I still do.

I’ve always wondered about the assumption that our online personas are more fake than our physical ones. I often feel awkward and nervous in real-life situations; I almost always feel like I’m saying the wrong thing and am unable to articulate what I really think and feel. Online, I have plenty of time and unlimited space to consider what to say and how to express myself. It’s an advantage that makes me feel more like myself, not less so.

On Dec. 7, 2000, the day I joined LiveJournal, I was 18 years old, living with my parents in Austin, jobless, ecstatically in love with my first boyfriend, and spending almost every waking second with as many of my friends as possible. My crew was comprised of other homeschooled teenagers with the same excess of free time that I had, resulting in us spending so much time together that we complained about missing each other when we were apart for two days. I documented every mundane moment of that life and the years that followed on my LiveJournal, eventually falling off but still occasionally updating until 2007.

My journal is still up, hundreds of thousands of words detailing the first seven years of my adult life, and it’s full of hilarious contradictions. I was clearly leading a blissful adventure, experiencing a new “first” practically every week — my first relationship, my first apartment, my first road trip with friends, my first full-time job — but I constantly write as if the weight of the world is on my shoulders: “Life has gotten so misplaced. I don’t even know what I’m doing, just that it can’t be like this forever.”

I was also so unaware of how dang corny I was being all the time. I would write about “candy magic” and my “yummy” days and being “so full of joy.” I think I’m a pretty earnest and even cheesy person now, but I’ve got nothing on my 18-year-old self waxing poetic about every single silly thing under the sun that day. Some parts of it make me wish I still had the ability to be so sincere, but other parts make me think I must have been the most annoying person on earth.

I shared more on my LiveJournal about my thoughts and emotions than I ever did in verbal conversations. I masked my feelings with humor and being loud in “real” life, but I was able to share my neuroses on my LJ. My best friends were reading my journal, and writing in their own too, so it wasn’t like it was a secret — when we weren’t busy hanging out and having fun in my room, we were talking and fighting and sharing our lives, all through words upon words upon words on our computer screens.

I’d write about politics or religion, about trying to understand people who disagreed with me, about the anxieties and delights of my first relationship, about the bands I was discovering and falling in love with. Most of all, I wrote about spending time with my friends, and about how much I loved them.

“I’ve just had one of the most fun-packed days of my life! This will be a long entry but it may actually be worth reading becuz there was so much weirdness today:

“Rachel and Dorothy and I stayed up ALL night last night, being goofy and bitchy and farting and just being completely delirious and silly. At 8:00 we went to Flips, and soon thereafter down to soccer.

I went to soccer and was loud and delirious and singing, and then we went to Schlotsky’s and had great conversation. Then Rachel left and I almost cried cuz she was so fun and I’m gunna miss her so much. But then I went to Flips and they were funny over there. And then I went to meet Isaac after work! And I was dressed so cool and in such a good mood, and we walked around.”

My friends’ journals have largely the same tone: documenting our lives in incredible, mundane, ecstatic detail. This is mostly a practice that seems to have been left behind on the present web, where at least most people are self-aware enough to know that others aren’t interested in an outline of their everyday lives. I guess this is a good thing — I’ve naturally grown up and become smarter and more self-aware since my LiveJournal days, and reading my writing from that era causes my entire body to seize up in embarrassment. I’m also so incredibly jealous. I look back at these entries and I read someone who was completely, 100% unafraid of being herself. I can’t think of anything more remarkable in a teenage girl, and I’m grateful that LiveJournal was a place where I could be me: purely, ridiculously, perfectly.

I was still blogging when I first joined Flickr.com in August 2004. For five years when everything else was changing — I left jobs, moved four times, broke up and restarted relationships, got a cat, and met my best friend — Flickr was a stable and integral part of my life. Flickr was focused entirely on photographs, and those pictures were all there was to it. You were judged not by your cool list of interests or your clever status updates, but by the glimpse into your actual life that photos provide. The present analogue is Instagram.

Still, before I even had an iPhone, Flickr flipped the tables for me. Instead of the internet being a thing I did when I wasn’t ~living~, Flickr became a way to keep track of all the cool stuff I was doing with my time. And there was plenty to keep track of — the time when I started using it a lot was also when I started drinking, dating, and traveling, and met most of the friends who are still my crew today. My Flickr photos are packed with boys I had flings with or unrequited crushes on, parties, late night video game sessions at my ex-boyfriend’s house, my new best friend’s hands folded around a beer at our favorite bar, and lots and lots of elaborately artistic selfies taken with my DSLR’s timer function.

Cute boys with cats uploaded to my Flickr, 2004-2005.

I looked at Flickr a lot. My friends who were on it uploaded all of their photos too, and it was a way to reflect and reinforce all of the things we were going through together. Looking back at my early uploads or my favorites list is as evocative as listening to an old favorite song. It’s easier to remember things that you regularly look at photos from, and as a result, the years after I joined Flickr are genuinely much clearer to me than all of the ones that came before.

When I browse Flickr now — it still exists, but active users have dwindled away since Yahoo started making changes after it acquired the service in 2005 — I’ll come across a photo of an ex-boyfriend hugging a cat or a good friend drinking coffee or a bunch of co-workers dancing in someone’s apartment, and I can hear and smell and feel everything in that frame. Flickr isn’t a window into my “internet life” of yore, it’s a window into my life-life. Maybe they are the same thing.

Typical Myspace selfie.

Although it was preceded by Friendster, which was used by me and a handful of my friends, for me Myspace marks when the concept of “social networking” became mainstream. It was the first time that the energy and excitement I felt for the internet was shared by almost everyone else my age.

There were so many Myspace things that came and went with the platform. The entire concept of having a “top eight” friends will always haunt people of a very specific age and remain completely meaningless to everyone five years older or younger than us.

And the Myspace selfies! I used Myspace photos to exert a control over my appearance that I’ve never quite felt like I had in real life. I’d carefully apply makeup I never wore in public, borrow my roommate’s jewelry, and have an entire selfie session in the sunshine just to achieve the perfect new profile picture.

Most notably, we made music for each other on Myspace. Getting musicians and their fanbases online must have been a strategic push for the company, but it felt completely organic. It felt like one day some band got on Myspace and made it big, and then the next day everyone on earth opened GarageBand for the first time.

Countless friends put music up on Myspace, so after joking that if I had a band I’d call it Premade Bears, I made a profile and I made some songs. For one of them, I borrowed my roommate’s 5-year-old son’s tiny miniature guitar and locked myself in the bathroom, strumming along to my imperfect country-ass voice singing about having a thing for a younger dude. For others, like “Stay Sweet; Don’t Ever Change,” I arranged some generic beats and played some keys on my laptop while sort of lackadaisically rapping about having a crush in the summertime.

There was no future for me in these weirdo amateur tunes, no shows to book or albums to release. Lily Allen made it big on Myspace, but most of us weren’t thinking about scale. I worked at a bookstore, doing events and making displays. I had designs to do something more with my life, but I wasn’t ever going to be a famous musician. Still, I made something I’d always wanted to, and I shared it with my friends. That was cool. Before Myspace, making music and getting people to listen to it seemed hard and complicated. During Myspace, it was the easiest thing in the world. Our old Myspace photos and cliquey top eights were a little silly, but making tunes for each other was a truly sweet, cool thing we got to do and I am grateful.

When I joined Facebook in 2006, it felt at first like the other social networks — a secret club for me and a select few to share our lives together. I didn’t quite get the point — most of the action was still on Myspace for the first couple years, and the wonkiness of Myspace’s customizable color scheme felt way more me than the clean, boring blue and gray on Facebook. And then Facebook grew. And kept growing. And now it remains the only network mentioned here that’s frequented by my entire extended family.

As evidenced by the teens who’ve left Facebook for other less mom-supervised networks and apps over the last couple years, being on a social network with everyone you’ve ever known is sometimes less fun than the alternatives. I mean, it makes sense: The last thing I want to do in real life is gather every friend, former co-worker, family member, and ex-boyfriend in one giant room together.

That said, my own mom is by far the coolest part of my Facebook experience. My mom uses Facebook with the same delightful, contagious joy that I used early BBSes with. Every Friday, she posts nature photos from the ranch where she lives with the hashtag #FieldNotesFriday. Rumor of her excellence on Facebook has spread among my group of friends, and I occasionally get a text from another pal asking if it’s cool if they request her.

A typical Facebook update from my mom.

Social networking is associated with youth — naturally, kids who grew up with the internet are more comfortable adapting to new social networks. But in the next couple decades, those same kids will be the parents crashing the party. If my mom is any indication, that could actually be pretty great.

I joined Twitter just about as soon as I heard about it, in early 2008; by that time, I was joining pretty much any social network that came onto my radar. When I first joined, my tweets were approximations of Facebook statuses.

It took months before I started using the actual functionality of Twitter, like to find out I had missed events or, er, comment on the news:

checking twitter for the first time in a day & like a nightmare, last night: “secret okkervil river show RIGHT NOW @ the compound”… Sigh.

— summeranne (@Summer Anne Burton)

david foster wallace is dead. wtf.

— summeranne (@Summer Anne Burton)

I felt like I was talking to a wall, because no one I knew was on Twitter, so I gave up on it for a while. I got the sense that Twitter was never going to catch on, but when a few of my coolest real-life friends started accounts, I quickly returned:

people keep joining twitter. so i’ll try to start updating again. i need an omelette.

— summeranne (@Summer Anne Burton)

But I used the platform for desolate personal revelations and song lyrics cryptically referencing my complicated personal life:

We are the challengers of the unknown.

— summeranne (@Summer Anne Burton)

Whiskey, i love you with a depth of feeling that scares the shit out of you.

— summeranne (@Summer Anne Burton)

When I first started at BuzzFeed almost three years ago, I stopped using Twitter as a constant stream of my brain and started using it more professionally and strategically to share my articles, comment on other sites’ posts, and interact with writers and editors I worked with or admired.

It felt like Twitter was something I did for work and Facebook was something I did for my “real” friends. Living in New York City, I have now met many of the people whose faces light up my TweetDeck window every day, but my pals back home mostly remain holdouts.

Still, lately my Twitter experience has reverted 360 degrees back to the personal, flirty, ~relatable~ vibe of my early tweets, except people are actually listening. I like to tweet about songs I like, and having crushes, and being up too late at night. I like to post selfies, and look at the selfies of cute dudes and ladies I follow. I like Twitter on the nights and weekends as much as I like it during the day at work. I like to wonder about whether a fav is a flirty fav or just a fav. I try to make people smile, or laugh, or, at the very least, think I am charming. I follow people who I find nice, warm, and smart.

life goal: be more like this dog

— summeranne (@Summer Anne Burton)

I often describe Twitter these days as the cool room where I hang out with my internet friends all day. Most of my closest “IRL” friends back in Texas still don’t use it, so Twitter still feels in some ways like a throwback to the internet of yore. It’s insurance that my thoughts won’t just disappear inside my brain. It’s a place to test my own ideas and jokes and cute pictures before unleashing them on a wider audience. And it’s an amazing way to maintain mild crushes on the brains of a few hundred other people, a true dream come true for my giant, fickle heart.

In January 2011, I had been using Tumblr for a couple years. I’d given up on maintaining my personal domain name and redirected it to my tumblog, where I posted photos, wrote about songs I liked, and shared links to things on the internet I was into. I had, around this same time, gotten super into drawing again. Art was something I’d been into consistently as a kid and a teenager, but I’d been focusing on writing, kissing boys, and working shitty retail jobs for most of my twenties. I started posting drawings on my blog in 2010 and found that my friends responded super positively to them. There’s so much reblogging and reposting and sharing on the social web that putting something truly new into the world again felt like I was doing something special.

I was also becoming completely obsessed with baseball, thanks to a fortuitous series of events. I’d started dating an obsessive sports fanatic named Brian and we visited the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown together for his birthday. I’d also recently switched from cheerleading to playing in my devoted local co-ed softball league. I’d just binge-watched all of the Ken Burns baseball documentary series. I joined a fantasy league. I had always liked baseball — it was the only sport I remember my dad being really into when I was a kid, and my grandmother was a devoted Astros fan — but this time, I got serious about it. I devoured books about baseball statistics and history, got an MLB season pass for my phone and computer so I could watch all the games I wanted, learned how to keep score, and started reading baseball websites and following baseball writers online.

So, in 2011, I started something that seemed totally natural: I decided to draw every member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame (there are currently 306) and put the drawings up on Tumblr. I thought maybe I could do it in a year. Four years later, I’m up to 258 drawings done. The project wasn’t designed to go viral; I just thought it would get me into the practice of drawing regularly, and that I’d get to learn more about baseball history in the process.

One of the inaugural five Hall of Famers and one of my first drawings for the blog.

A few months in, an editor for ESPN: The Magazine called my cell phone. I was at my part-time waitressing job when he told me the magazine wanted to pay me to draw some pictures of players who won’t make it into the Hall despite impressive resumes (such as banned baseball player Pete Rose). It was the first time someone offered to pay me to do something freelance, and it blew my mind. After the magazine, I did an interview with ESPN online, Emma Carmichael asked if she could feature some of the drawings on Deadspin, and the project was written up in my hometown alt-weekly, the Austin Chronicle.

I started to become known, not just as an illustrator but also among baseball writers online. I applied for and, miraculously, got a regular paying freelance gig at Fangraphs, a baseball website for mega-nerds like the one I’d become. I didn’t write about stats in any traditional sense, though — I wrote about female pop stars as if they were players, researched the GOP presidential candidates’ relationships with America’s pastime, and crafted a T-shirt with the win probability graph of a crazy playoff game embroidered on it (the latter led my wonderful editor, Carson Cistulli, to email me with an apology for, well, all men).

Writing about baseball on Fangraphs opened up a world for me that I hadn’t fully realized existed, where people got paid to do what I’d been doing for fun my entire life: make stuff for the internet. I did some posts for The Hairpin and started drawing a comic for the newly kickstarted The Classical. I started applying for jobs at websites. And, 16 months after starting Every Hall of Famer, I got an email from a woman at BuzzFeed asking if I could chat with two editors about the part-time weekend editor position I’d applied for. By September of that year, I moved to New York for a full-time position at BuzzFeed.

Though I don’t typically write about baseball for the site, I’m sure I wouldn’t be here without Every Hall of Famer, which I’m hoping to finally finish sometime during the 2015 baseball season. I sometimes miss writing about baseball, but I figure I was never meant to be a specialist.

My latest position at BuzzFeed, Editorial Director of BFF, entails running a new team that makes original content for emerging social web platforms. It’s better than I ever imagined a job could be. It’s also the job I’ve been in training for without knowing it since I first dialed into a BBS at age 12. It reinforces my dad’s decision to introduce technology to me and my brother when we were so young, and it validates my mom’s loose, organic view of education and willingness to let me self-direct in front of a computer screen. I’m grateful for this life, online and off.

One of my first posts on Vine, starring Bobby Sneakers.

I’ve focused here on the social networks that have had the biggest impact on my life, but there was also the ego-stroking delight of Friendster testimonials, the thrill of experimenting with online dating — or, more accurately, online flirting — on Consumating.com, my brief foray into anonymous message boards on Zug.com, and countless music message boards and email lists. These days, I use Instagram, Vine, and Facebook daily, in addition to Twitter and Tumblr.

“Social networking” is what I think about all day at my job, but it’s also how I stay connected to my friends back home, make new friends, develop crushes, document my life, and entertain myself. So about this tension between the internet and real life: Maybe while they’re melting together, they can bring out the best in one another.

There are plenty of people who seem to have an easy time being cruel on the web who would crumble if they were face to face with the victims of their abuse. It would be nice if those bullies and trolls could take whatever it is that keeps most of them from being horrible every day in the streets, and bring it with them to online forums.

On the flip side, I often yearn for the texture of my internet life in my “real” life. Sometimes when I’m at a bar or a party these days, I try to summon internet-me so that I can be more open, generous, flirtatious, confident, and tender. A better listener and a nicer person.

Most days I spend a lot of time watching people — some of them friends and some of them strangers — post on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and Vine and Tumblr and TinyLetter and Medium. They are so often honest and vulnerable and breaking my heart, or funny, or creative, or incisive. I heart their selfies, I share their writing, I fav their tweets, and I read about their experiences. I tell them I love and appreciate them in tiny, easy ways, and they do the same for me.

Those moments usually feel like the realest part of my day.







































Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/summeranne/social-networking-a-love-story