The Friends We Made Along the Way

I was in middle school when I really fell in love with the Internet. I’d flirted with it a bit prior, creating my own Geocities site in homage to the popular virtual pet software “Petz” by P.F. Magic and browsing artwork created with Bryce 3D and early versions of Maya. But it was in a Friends (yes, the TV show) message board of all places that the web became my home. At 13, I was one of the youngest members of the forum, but no one seemed to mind. We discussed the show, accumulated a multitude of silly in-jokes, and eventually began to share bits and pieces of our lives. It was there that I—a little girl from middle-of-nowhere Nebraska—met people from Germany, Turkey, Brazil, Czechia, the Netherlands.

Our conversations drifted off the forum and into AIM and ICQ. We began to send each other snail mail: postcards, candy unique to our countries, even mixtapes. I have them all tucked in a box somewhere—a precious memory of those formative years. Eventually we took on various roles within our community, and developed traditions. For instance, when it was someone’s birthday, someone else would be assigned to write a birthday “script” for them: an original Friends-style sitcom script, usually with a hilariously ridiculous plot, starring all of us. Two people from the forum (from different countries!) even fell in love and got married.

Then, Friends was over. We grew up, scattered. Years later we found one another on Facebook and Instagram, but it was never the same.

When I tweeted my way into the iOS community so many years ago, I felt the same energy and excitement, if not necessarily the same level of closeness. You all gave me the confidence I needed to keep going with programming when I felt like giving up. We’ve shared so many laughs, so many frustrations.

Many have been eulogizing Twitter these past couple of weeks, and I don’t have too much to add to what they’ve said. I know Twitter wasn’t great for a lot of people, but it was great for me. Even if we all manage to stay in touch through a hodgepodge of RSS feeds, Mastodon accounts, and Discords, things will never be the same.

And let’s be honest: Twitter was the best way to get Apple-related bugs fixed. Feedback/radar never was, and never will be, as effective as a few frustrated tweets, retweeted into oblivion. How will App Store Review injustices be rectified without us all rallying behind the little dev? In losing Twitter, we lose our ability to publicly shame corporations into doing the right thing…which, obviously, we never should have had to do in the first place.

And don’t get me started on the wealth of bite-sized information we’ll lose—with the departure of folks like Steve Troughton-Smith, much is already gone. Workarounds for SwiftUI bugs. Tips and tricks for Mac Catalyst. The feeling of solidarity in knowing that you’re not the only one getting dozens of CloudKit error codes.

I know we’ll figure all of this out in time. I simultaneously feel a sort of nervous optimism combined with a deep sense of loss. I’m going to enjoy blogging again. I’m going to miss liking all of your tweets. I hope we’ll stay Internet friends, in one way or another. As always, you can find me on Twitter until the lights go out, on Mastodon with the same handle (I’m on, on, lurking in the RelayFM Discord, and blogging right here on this site. My next post will be all about YarnBuddy (what I’ve been working on, how it’s doing, etc.), so stay tuned. <3

Oh, and a free app idea: yo, but for Bay Area earthquakes. You’re welcome.

Edit 11-14-22 12:42 p.m. CST: Comments are now open. I’ll probably open comments more often from now on.

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  • 💬 @becky It’s interesting how we all have different stories about the internet, and it’s times, but one takeaway to me from this, is that to many younger people today, platforms/networks like Mastodon and Discord may be the equivalent of our days in ICQ