My First Community

I’m not as active here in the WordPress community as my brother, and some of you others in the Stuph Maphia. I’m just a guy who shows up every once in a while and tells a story and shares some tunes. I’ve had a wonderful experience here. I’ve interacted with many of you out there and it’s been a blast. I look forward to what little time I can spend with you all every day.

In my mind, WordPress is the third online community I’ve felt like I’ve been a part of. The second one was the Xbox Live clan that twindaddy and I were a part of. Most of the people in the clan were from the Cincinnati area, so we actually got to meet a lot of them in person. Even though we never got back together as a group once the 360 came out, there are a few of them that I still talk to today.

I discovered my first online community around 2000. In the summer of 1999, I moved back to northern Kentucky from Detroit. When I got here,I moved in with a friend of mine. After I had gotten all of my stuph moved in and, for the most part, situated, I noticed that he had a weird looking box hooked up to his television. I asked him what it was and he told me it was his WebTV.

I, along with probably most of you who are reading this, had never heard of WebTV (which was later bought out by Microsoft and renamed MSNTV). Basically, it was a device the size of a VCR that hooked up to your TV and you could get online with it.

Even for that time, it was fairly basic. You could go to web pages, but they were usually difficult to navigate. There was no mouse, just a wireless keyboard. For the most part, all it was good for was discussion groups, email, and chat rooms. No matter what, though, I will always remember the WebTV vividly for two reasons. One, it was where I discovered my first online community. And two, I was on my WebTV, either reading or typing an email, in 2001 when my younger brother came into my room and said, “A plane just crashed into the Trade Center. Come on out and watch the news.”

Anyways, after telling me what the hell it was, he turned it on and showed me how it worked. I thought it was kind of cool, so he added an account on it for me. I was iamspartacus (Leave me alone. I had just watched That Thing You Do and, for some reason, I thought the way the drummer said that line was hilarious. Looking back, I’m not sure why I found it that funny). I messed around on it for a few months, but never really got into it.

Then, one day, I came home from work and he was on the WebTV, in a chat room. I sat down and asked him what they were talking about and he said, “Anything.” I watched for a little bit and saw that everyone in the room knew everyone else in the room. When a different person came in, it was like the “NORM!” shout from Cheers all typed out. I wanted to talk to these people too. So, he handed me the keyboard.

Instead of signing in under my own name, I stayed and pretended to be my friend for a while. I was eventually caught as I was apparently a better speller than him. He took the keyboard back and told them what he had done. They all lol-ed and said that I could start coming in under my own name if I wanted to (it was a private chat room. You had to have permission to get in there. I never did find out how my friend found it). I started going there under my own name and it was great.

It took me a little while to start opening up to them. After all, this was all new to me. When I finally did, I found that the people there were even cooler than I originally thought. There were many nights when I’d be in that room for hours at a time. Because of this, it became too much of a hassle for me and my friend to share one WebTV box. So, I ended up getting my own.

Because I couldn’t take my name from his box with me, I had to choose a new one. I went with Spartacus2405. Well, they already knew me as Spartacus, so I just picked a different version of it. Eventually, they started calling me Sparty for short. I got to know a lot of them very well. My friend and I even met a couple of our fellow chatters who happened to live about an hour away from us. It was the first time I ever met somebody I became friends with online.

I moved out of my friend’s house and took a break from WebTV for awhile. I went back once I got situated again, but a few of my friends had stopped chatting. I stayed with it until I bought my first computer. As much as I liked my WebTV, it was slow and I could do way more things on my new PC. Unfortunately, I let my WebTV subscription run out before I got my contacts out of my email address book, so I lost every email address I had. To make matters worse, I couldn’t access that chat room from my PC. It was WebTV only. I was never able to talk to any of them again.

I’m not often nostalgic, but every once in a while, I think back to those days and wonder what some of them are up to now. Do any of them even remember me? Unless, by some miracle, one of them reads this and remembers, I guess I’ll never know.


34 comments on “My First Community

  1. rarasaur says:

    Aww, I loved this. My first online community was, by total accident, a Yahoo!Chatroom. I met my best friend there, and he is my best friend to this day– 15 years later. The others, though, they all just sort of disappeared. My second online community was a forum for quotes– and even though forums eventually faded away, I am still friends with my forummates today. I guess this is my third as well! I understand the nostalgia perfectly and this brought so many good memories back. 🙂

  2. wannabepoet says:

    Awesome post! My first online community was – seems like a lifetime ago!

    • This post made me feel old. I can say things like, “I remember back when not everyone had the internet.” Oy….

      • wannabepoet says:

        I also remember when the internet was ‘new’ and we didn’t have it! I also remember food old dial up internet that I thought was the bomb, all the beeps and clicks, that was so slow I could almost see the grey hairs growing! I also remember when cellphones were new, and that my folks only got theirs in the late 90’s. All this and I’m only 27!! 😉

  3. I think blogspot was my first and there was very little community, but I was so knew to it I didn’t know what I was doing, then I met WP, and the rest is history. 🙂

  4. I get ya on this – wonderful post. I had a real cool community many years ago in an online chef board (I am a chef by trade). Even met up a few times to do cook-offs and special meals to raise charity and to hang out. It was quite cool. My second, and deeper and richer community, has been with my fellow alcoholics and addicts in the blogging world. I have actually met one of them and have expanded my community to the “normal” people (whoever they are – have yet to meet one). Bloggers are a certain breed, for sure, and the more I interact and read and comment and write, the more I feel a part of, rather apart from.

    Thanks for sharing this!


  5. 1jaded1 says:

    Web tv brings back memories. I miss the old chat room I used to visit.

  6. The Cutter says:

    Back in the early 2000s I would hang out at a message board and became pseudo friends with the people there. I too sometimes wonder what became of them all.

  7. Sarah Brekke says:

    I remember hopping on AOL chatrooms when I was about 11 or 12. I don’t remember ever being part of a community though until now with wordpress.

  8. TT&NB says:

    My first online community was Livejournal, which I still go to on occasion and check in.. Your post brought back so many memories!

  9. djmatticus says:

    I’m surprised the power of the internet has not come to your aide? If you Google search “WebTV” and the name of the chatroom you were in, you might be able to find a list of who was part of that group? Contact information? Etc…? If we’ve learned anything from TV and movies it’s that everything that has ever been on the internet is still available somewhere…

    • I actually tried that a few years ago. I never found anything. Now, for the life of me, I can’t remember the exact name of the chat room. I put in what I think it is, but come up with nothing.

      My mind is a revolving door. Nothing stays in there for long. Things like chat room names get easily replaced by football stats, movie plots, and story ideas.

      • djmatticus says:

        Go Team Marvel!!

        Wait, is that not what we are talking about?

        I’m sorry the internet (and maybe your mind) failed you in this quest. Hopefully by some random chance someone will stumble onto your post and recognize you from the old chat room and get in touch. It seems like a long shot but I’m sure stranger things have happened.

  10. Twindaddy says:

    Is that the sort of thing you should be saying publicly? What’s the statute of limitations on that?

  11. Elyse says:

    Mine is WordPress. Yeah, I’m always behind in this stuff.

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