On July 1, my favorite website closed.
A bizarre concept, isn’t it? I had never really thought about a website closing before, the way that it happens to other businesses, partially because I’m not apt to think of them as businesses. It’s not a store or a restaurant or a vacuum repair shop. It doesn’t occupy a physical space in my city, where the windows would be shuttered and eventually a new business would take its place. Have you been to that new taco place? It’s where _______ used to be.
No, the small corner of the internet occupied by the-toast.net still exists, its domain name and all previous posts still intact. There are no tacos to be found, just heavy doses of humor, personal essays, musings on pop culture and literature, and perhaps the least terrifying comment section known to humanity. The fact that everything published on the site in its three-year history is still available for my enjoyment is important mainly because I showed up very late to the party, only becoming a consistent reader in the past couple months. But showing up at all has been positively marvelous. It has changed my mood, my perspective, my writing. I have spent the past few months reading and laughing and feeling a part of a larger community of people who frequented the site. The Toastie community is known for its camaraderie—one time a Toastie donated a FREAKING KIDNEY to another Toastie, just because. The Toast had recently become a highlight of my daily internet routine when, back in May, the creators announced that the end was forthcoming. I believe my exact thoughts were But I just got here.
So now I’m starting at the beginning. During the site’s last few weeks, people kept going on and on about how the site had been the best thing ever, how it changed their lives, how much it mattered. It’s the way you only talk about things once they’re gone, and I want to know how much if it is true. There are 371 pages of content on the site, and my short time as an active follower only covers a small percentage of that. Which means that I can keep going back to this site and read new-to-me content for years. While this is a very comforting thought for me, I know it’s not the same as being there in the years when it actually happened. I feel like the person who shows for the last fifteen minutes of a really awesome concert and, in the throes of despair of not having gotten there sooner, someone hands them a DVD of everything they missed. I can see what has passed, but I cannot be there as it unfolds. I can’t feel the energy of something fresh and present. The lively comment sections I’ve grown accustomed to were last active 157 weeks ago. It’s strange how important reading in a timely fashion can be when it comes to the internet. Most books I read have already been published for years before I read them, but with these articles where references are purposefully current and the comments are part of the enjoyment, a hint of staleness emerges.
So while reading each and every post is fun for now, will I do this for years, until all is read? Most likely not. Most likely, I will skip around a bit, making sure I don’t miss my favorite series, like “If X Were Your Y” and “Texts From,” but not being as particular about the things in between. Most likely, I will tire of feeling three years behind in the comment sections. Most likely, I will seek out another small corner of the internet to call home. One that hopefully will be as weird and hilarious and probably just as unlikely to stay viable for as long as I would like.
I’m open to suggestions.