Monday, February 3, 2014

Black Planet: The OG of Social Networks

In my next Black History Month post, I want to take some of yall back... alllllll the way back.  Back when dial-up was our main source for Internet, this was that site.  You were constantly updating your page with ratchet graphics and tacky backgrounds.  Have you guess what site I'm talking about?

If you said Black Planet then you guessed right.  Black Planet wasn't just any site.  It was Instagram but only with selfies (before selfie was in the dictionary).  It was Facebook without the annoying status updates every 20 minutes.  Your page painted a picture of who you were.  I know I wasn't the only that worked hours at making my page look perfect.  You made a wordy description of yourself where you felt a need to tell people how fine you were however you were only looking for "friends".  You would come up with a color scheme (usually pink, purple, or baby blue if you were a girl) and everything on that page had to be that color.

There was a science to making the perfect page.  After you picked the color scheme, you then had to add graphics.  And not just any graphics, but graphics that explained my 16 year old self.  I had a glittery graphic that said "Sexy", purple one that read "Angel", and green camo graphic that boldly said "BabyGirl".  Then to top it off, you had to make sure you added a graphic that reminded people to "Show Your Page Some Love".

Why were we blinded to the fact that this stuff looked horrible?  Why did we think we had the flyest pages?  I wish I could take a screen shot of my page from 2005.  I would be ashamed of myself.  One thing I can say is that I'm surprised that more black people from this era did not become graphic designers.  We were most definitely getting hours of practice.

What puzzled me was what exactly was I supposed to be doing on Black Planet?  My mom had scared me straight with numerous 20/20 and Dateline Specials so I knew better than to give my number to an online lurker.  But for the brave who ignored 20/20's warnings, did  anybody meet someone over Black Planet and actually have a lasting, loving relationship.  When Jerome and Takesha renew their vows at their 20th anniversary will they reference Black Planet as the place they found true love?  Will Jerome tell his kids how he couldn't live another minute without Takesha once he saw her page with its Cash Money Millionaire background?  I hope so.  I want true love for Jerome and Takesha.

All jokes aside, Black Planet was a simpler time.  We were just learning what social media was.  We had no idea the power social media had yet we still had an understanding of just how much we should share online.  You didn't hear numerous incidents about bullying on Black Planet.  You basically looked at someone's fancy page and moved on to the next.  There were no trolls or stan wars.  You didn't get into online battles with racists idiots whose profile picture is Darth Vader. No crazy names like Takesha BoutMyMoney James.  Instead, you had B@byGirl1988.   It was just simple page browsing.  Sounds boring but at least we didn't have the problems we have online now.

Just like how Elvis stole Rock n' Rock from Little Richard, Facebook stole social media from Black Planet.  Now poor Black Planet is a wasteland full of ratchets and ratchettes.  I recently went by the old place just to see how it was doing and found out they have an app!  Good for you, Black Planet, for fighting the good fight.

Do you all remember your Black Planet Page?  Be honest, is it still active?

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