Breaking Up (With a Website) Is Hard To Do

Oh, I’m not talking about Persephone, of course. We will be together forever. I’m talking about other (inferior!) websites that you outgrow, or that outgrow you. It’s always tough to say goodbye, but sometimes it’s very necessary.

I graduated from college and got a full-time job in 2004 (do the math, nerds), and I found myself a little under-stimulated at work. Performing simple tasks, combined with my employers’ surprisingly low expectations, meant that I found myself with just as much free time as I’d had in college, but I had to spend it at my desk, staring at my computer. So I started spending more time online.

Little did I know at the time, it was a pretty interesting time in Internet-land. Professional and corporate websites were improving in look and function by the day, and news organizations were still figuring out how to keep their business going in a landscape where most websites’ content was free. Blogs were just finding their footing; they’d recently grown from mostly being personal journals to being news aggregators and editorial platforms.

So I spent a lot of time scrolling around some of these new, fun blogs. I read up-to-the minute pop culture news, I checked out movie and TV reviews (sometimes after the fact; I’d think “I can’t wait to see what so-and-so had to say about this one”), I started reading about “the media,” and for the first time I was reading news in a casual, sarcastic voice. As commenting capabilities improved, I also found that sometimes the comments were funnier or more interesting than the content.

Back then, the growing pains associated with any on-the-rise website or blog didn’t have the well-worn Behind the Music storyline that we’re by now all quite familiar with. So the first time (the first couple times, really) a blog I’d spend a lot of time reading, commenting on, and generally giving a crap about started to feel unfamiliar to me, it was an upsetting experience.

In some cases, I outgrew the site. After a year or two I really started to feel like I was wasting a lot of time, energy, and mental space on celebrity gossip. Not to mention that the ruthless tone of many celebrity blogs started to get to me. So one year, my New Year’s resolution was to stop reading the biggest one (hint: lots of pink) as well as a few of the smaller, quirkier ones. I went through the usual withdrawal phase; I found myself literally having to sit on my hands to keep myself from clicking over to my former standbys, and when big stories broke I’d be dying to know what they would have written about it.

Sometimes though, the blog outgrew me. Some sites that start out with a single purpose change because of demand or a desire for more growth. There’s nothing wrong with this; once your blog becomes a business, you’d be a bad businessperson if you didn’t try to grow. But sometimes you’d find yourself, after years reading a favorite blog, looking around and not recognizing anything or anyone. They’re not writing about the things you like, and you wonder where the site you married has gone. This kind of breakup is a little harder to handle because it’s basically the website equivalent of someone dumping you, whereas making your own decision to quit a site is like being the dump-er.

Just like a relationship, if you hold on too long after you know it’s over, you’re only hurting yourself. You don’t want to be the one just going through the motions, clicking headline after headline to read posts that make you feel nothing. Sure, they’ll drop in some inside joke from the old days of the mid-aughts, and you’ll laugh and smile and think you still have something special. But just like that, everyone moves on to the next thing. The magic’s gone.

While I’m still reading one or two from the early days, I’ve now cut and run from several beloved sites and blogs. It never really gets easier, but I think it’s still important to know when to fold “˜em.

19 replies on “Breaking Up (With a Website) Is Hard To Do”

I’ve been a part of online communities for years, and it’s funny to think how much time I’d invest in a given site, only to move onto another with equal fervor a couple of years later. From OpenDiary to studentdoctornetwork to Jezebel to blogspot. I used to spend a lot more time chatting about personal stuff in forums and then I switched largely to anti-racism and feminist blogs and now I’m all about tumblr (and persephone) which is kind of the perfect combination of both.

Today I checked in on an old favorite and saw that one of the site moderators/writers had promoted an ignorant, poorly though-out comment and realized that there was no other reason for the mod to do this than to stir up discussion. It’s sad when sites devolve like that, but it happens to the best of them.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve been blogging since 2001 (mostly over at livejournal, which gets a lot of mocking but actually has a pretty nice community if you can find the right people). I wish I had saved a record of my links lists in the right sidebar. It would have been interesting to be able to look at the evolution of it over time. I can hardly remember some of the stuff I used to waste my time with on the internet.

Aw, I was a 2000-era Diaryland girl (and before that, a hard-scrabble HTMLer at!).

I was exploring themes of bisexuality at that time and loved a blog on a journal site by a girl named T. Later I was shocked to read some “the hot girl’s guide to lesbianing out” chick lit guide to life book where she cited the same blog as being instrumental to her own identity during the era.

Early 2000s diariers were fierce!

As with some relationships, one of the worst parts of this kind of breakup is thinking about all the time you invested on it. When I quit old LB I went through a short mourning period, but I soon made my peace with the fact that we were going in different directions and wanted different things out of our relationship (I wanted good content and commentary, LB wanted to shove huge shiny Trident ads in my face and stop me from having meaningful converstations with my friends. Eh, people change, what you gonna do!) But now, I cringe at the thought of all the time and energy I wasted on that site. Oh well, at least I made some internet buddies, found out about some awesome movies/series, and ended up discovering Persephone – you have to focus on the positive!

Also, for all the fun we used to make of all the Diva Cup proselytism, discovering the cup turned out to be one of the best things I took away from that relationship.

This is really timely for me, I just quit jezebel this week. It made me sad because it was the website I read during what was definitely the “coming of age” period of my life when I went from being a super shy baptist gal with a rather small world view to the woman I am today. The site definitely was an important place of self examination and discovery for me. The content, however, has become rather trashy. It is a far cry from what it was almost 4 yrs ago when I started reading it. It makes me sad, because it seems like a site cannot yet be mainstream/really popular and properly address women’s issues. Now I read persephone, feministing, facebook and my email, and I no longer want to throw my computer across the room.

Oh, I’ve done them all.

My first online community was I was a regular commenter on there for about four years. I made friends of all ages there, and we exchanged email addresses, and in a couple of cases, real addresses and phone numbers. Eventually the trolls got to it and I lost interest, but even now, ten years later, occasionally people will find me and say, “hey, are you the redhead who moved to NZ?”

After that it was Livejournal, and then MySpace, then Facebook (which I am still hopelessly addicted to), and of course, Jezebel.

I’m happy to say at this stage FB and Persephone are the only two sites I visit with any frequency, unless you count logging in my bike rides on, or listening to tunes on LastFM.

During college I was on Live Journal ALL THE TIME. It was before FB and it was an easy way to keep up with my friends life. But by the end of college I had really outgrown and stopped using it.

Recently I googled my most common screename and my old lj popped up! I didn’t even recognize the site, it looked so different. I did promptly delete it thought, because it contained some information I do not want public and that screename is associated with my real name…


I had the biggest website-break up with a forum I was administrator for. I jumped in when the end was already near, but having to rally every member again and again started to work on my nerves.
One day I just said ‘I’m out of here’ and it felt like such a relief. No more cleaning of spam, no more ‘It was better before!’ whining, nothing. I deleted the link and these days I realize that they’re used to be a website I visited several times a day.

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