Fifteen years ago, more or less, I followed a link from Slashdot to a little site named everything2.com. Fifteen years ago today, I made an account. Three days after that, I wrote my first writeup on the subject of "The little grates at the top of my bedroom walls".
In the years that followed, E2 provided me with my nightly reading - new-window upon new-window (because I still used Netscape Navigator back then, and then the shiny new Internet Explorer 5 and 6) following trails of cryptically-named and intriguing links.
I wrote as well: short, breezy replies to previous noders at first, validating their writeups and adding a little thought of my own; then factual descriptions of things around me - the electronic components I was studying at school, obscure models of Yamaha keyboard - for E2 was Wikipedia before Wikipedia ever existed, amongst the many other things it was and still is. In time I even wrote a few pages of personal reflection. I joined IRC channels, and I travelled to attend a couple of nodermeets - gatherings of equally odd and lovely people from across the UK.
But mostly I read: poetry, geek culture, strange ramblings with titles like "SOY! SOY! SOY! Soy makes you strong! Strength crushes enemies! SOY!", essays on how to think, live, love - all of which took me away from my sixteen-year-old suburban lifestyle and blew my mind wide open.
I credit E2 for giving me a glimpse of life outside the schoolyard, to the point where I could think past schoolboy-enforced heterosexuality and come out. I got to know the two guys I sort-of-long-distance-dated via an E2 IRC chatroom. And finally, when I met a friend of a Uni friend at an anime meetup in first year, ended up chatting to him on MSN a lot, introduced him to E2 and he just *got it* right away... well, we're still together nearly thirteen years later.
(epilogue: ten and a half years later, I'm sitting on the floor of a house party with an old friend from said E2 IRC chat, and he introduces me to Lila, and we realize that all three of us had our lives changed in some fashion by E2...)