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I have been online, in one way or another, since the early 1990s.In the early days, I was on a desktop computer, a Macintosh LC II, with a very slow modem.I think of myself as a fiction writer, though these days I write fiction and nonfiction in equal measure.Most of my nonfiction comes in the form of opinion-based essays.I hadn’t realized I was so opinionated until I started writing essays, and then I realized that I have rather strong opinions about nearly everything. The older I get, the more comfortable I am sharing those opinions or finding my way to them through an essay.I sometimes also write from my life, but I generally prefer not to without a compelling reason for doing so.Before and after that, I had a hardcoded HTML site where I blogged about my truly mundane life.

Back in the day, I had a Live Journal where I blogged about my truly mundane life—college, dating, depression, drama.

I would tie up the phone line for hours, surfing what there was of the Internet but mostly participating in newsgroups and online chat rooms with people who were older and worldlier than I. I prefer quiet, even when I am happily around other people. Online, I can be in my head and with interesting people. Writing has been part of my life far longer than the Internet.

For me, one of the biggest draws of the Internet has always been how I can be alone and yet find connection with other people. Even before I understood what I was doing, I was writing.

In 2010, an eleven-year-old girl was gang raped in Cleveland, Texas, a story I first heard about when acquaintances discussed the case on social media.

That sort of attention is powerful for a shy, lonely introvert.

It affirms that you have left some kind of mark, however fleeting.