Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Forgotten Social Network

Before there was the obsolete Myspace, the befuddling google +, and the powerhouse (and increasingly annoying) Facebook- there is one oft-forgotten social network that was for me and many other black youth/adults the start of our true social internet experience. That website is: Blackplanet.

Come on. Don't look at me like I'm crazy. I know y'all giving me the side-eye right now, but I know- I just know- you remember having a profile or two. Especially the old ones which actually started teaching us how to do html and all, since we wanted sparkly banners, flaming icons, backgrounds of our favorite rapper or just cash, and scrolling sentences saying how hot we were. Don't act like you don't remember.

I definitely remember and I won't front about my experiences with it. When our young generation began embracing the internet we all went on there for aol's chatrooms and places like Blackplanet. There was no google search, youtube, wikipedia, or pandora. It was a pretty simple process of waiting until your mom got off the phone, turning on aol and waiting for the annoying scratching booting up modem thingy to connect, then going somewhere trying to interact with others on the internet.

We'd accept friend requests from random people, giggle with our friends over stalker boys, and try to make our profiles as flashy as possible so that we could get lots of hits. But then that quickly became boring and obsolete, especially when things like Myspace came on. Blackplanet was popular in the black community, but Myspace was popular with everyone- even internationally. So I stopped using blackplanet and you did too. That was ninth grade for me.

Then I headed to college and as I said in an earlier post: one of my older college friends had told me about her experiences with dating/being involved with men from the internet, and I was interested, especially because I wasn't getting any attention from the people in my tiny college environment. I wanted to feel pretty and I wasn't getting that from the various men (I admit I was only interested in black men at the start of my college life- quickly grew out of that, thank God), so I decided to try something new and different.

Blackplanet had(s) definitely changed. Now it's mainly a more grown (and sometimes sexy) crowd, and for all intents and purposes, it's another free internet hook-up dating site. It used to be majority middle school/high school kids just interacting with each other, rarely with the intent to actually meet up (or maybe that was just me and my friends?). Now it's definitely utilized for two people to engage each other over the internet than meet up. That's what happened to me. But after my experience I deleted my account, feeling that it was just not for me. It was nice having guys message me expressing how beautiful they thought I was, but I had no interest in meeting up with these guys and they clearly had no interest past sex. That's just not me.

I recently stopped by the site and it still looks the same as it did when I was in college. They've tried to make it more sophisticated to keep people interested, but I don't know anyone who actually has an account (or is willing to tell me they do). I'd say it's pretty obsolete in this current technological age, but maybe you'd beg to differ.

So then: Has Blackplanet become obsolete? Do you even know what Blackplanet is? Have you ever used (or do you still use) it? Got some stories?

I know I'm not the only one who used it. Break it down.

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