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Xanga, we hardly knew ye: Ode to the angstiest social network ever

xanga logoDo you remember Xanga? It was a pretty formidable blogging platform in the early ’00s, home to the anguished missives and painful flirtations of teens and young adults the world over. And although its star started fading quite a few years ago, now it’s really on the verge of extinction – and that’s a shame, because it hosts some of the most absurd stuff on the Internet.

I had a Xanga in high school and I’m pretty sure it’s definitive proof that your pre-frontal cortex is woefully under-developed at that age. Xanga was so profoundly emo that I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me Dashboard Confessional was actually just a very sophisticated music robot that amalgamated the collective content of the site into mournful ballads.

And that’s what made it awesome! It was so heart-on-your-sleeve earnest, the sad sack sister of the too flashy MySpace and too young LiveJournal. And it’s totally the spiritual uncle to at least a third of Tumblr. You just know that Angela Chase from My So-Called Life would’ve been all over it. And now it’s going to shut down unless it can raise $60,000 from a crowdfunding campaign. Their fundraising efforts are going pretty well so far, with almost $20,000 raised, and it’s on until July 15th.

But the days of free Xanga are over. If the fundraising is successful, CEO John Hiler explains that Xanga will move to a paid subscription model, so users could have an ad-free experience. And this might be a problem because there are already a number of free services that have supplanted the need for Xanga – people can have blogs on WordPress or Tumblr, or just use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to vent their feelings to a community or the general public.

Tumblr has a firm hold on what would likely be Xanga’s audience today, and even though Yahoo’s recent acquisition has users freaking out, it’s not likely they’ll decide they hate it so much that they want to pay for a Xanga subscription – they’ll just migrate to the next great free platform.

So, as we watch the last great dying gasps of the once-mighty blogging platform, here are a few of the reasons I will really miss this ridiculous site:

It gave birth to “eProps”

You can “like” something on Facebook and “favorite” it on Twitter, but Xanga users gave each other an “eProp” which is a far funnier thing to think about and say. Can you imagine if the phrase “e-prop” had invaded our collective consciousness in the same way that “like” or “friend” did? The world would be a sillier place. “EProps” sounds like something a dorky adult pretending to be a teenager would say, but it’s REAL. Or it was real. RIP eProps, RIP Xanga. I also like that you could give a maximum of two eProps at a time to someone. Why two? It was delightfully arbitrary.

It had a feature called “Pulse” it described as a “carefree mini-blog”

I never used Pulse because I was only a Xanga frequenter for a few months in 2004, and Pulse started in 2007. But the idea that a company referred to one of its services as a “carefree mini-blog” tickles me. Why doesn’t it have any cares? It’s a new feature on a declining website. It should be very nervous to prove itself. If anything it should be an “anxiety-riddled mini-blog.”

The overall 2004-ness of everything

Basically, Xanga is awesome because it’s a time capsule of the early 2000’s. Back when we thought we could possibly incorporate eProps into our lives. Back when calling something a “weblog” was kind of acceptable. I know people still use it and I might be biased because I got familiar with it during its glory days, but Xanga should at least be preserved by historians in case we somehow lose all of the other information about what was going on in the 2000s.

And sure, they’ll be convinced that we were, for a brief moment in time, all a little bit narcissistic and self-involved, broadcasting our personal information, compulsively sharing updates … oh, wait a second. We still do all the same stuff. Just spread out over various platforms, and generally with better spelling and grammar and graphics. And Facebook’s recent addition of letting you use animated emoticons to showcase your moods is totally a Xanga throwback. Xanga is chock-full of goofiness but it’s a prototype for the social media we use now, and I hope we at least get it archived.

If you too would like to take a trip down Xanga memory lane, there are a handful of Xanga blogs doing just that. It all just proves that you’re never too emotional for the Internet. 

xanga angst
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Kate Knibbs
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kate Knibbs is a writer from Chicago. She is very happy that her borderline-unhealthy Internet habits are rewarded with a…
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