Perhaps my earliest exploration of the interweb was Yahoo!. It was 2006 and being an it kid meant having your own email. Sitting on the floor of my mum’s office, I made my first technological footprint by the name of firstname.lastname@example.org, my Vietnamese name in English - outstanding. Of course, with that also came the ever so glossy Yahoo! Messenger. I do remember briefly dipping into MSN Messenger and Hotmail, but I stayed quite loyal. The following years consisted of my brief yet equally revolutionary careers as a Maple Story warrior, bubbly Club Penguin and Stardoll stylist. I specifically remember obsessing over my grades because mum and I had an agreement for good reports in exchange for monthly Stardoll “Superstar” privileges which entailed glamourous shopping benefits with a deposit of $10. My mum is a diplomat, and this was her way of making sure her little girl didn’t grow up to be technologically absorbed and four eyed. She was temporally raising my older brother and I in Sydney Australia whilst completing her three-year exchange trip. Alas, her efforts did not show full fruit.
In the Summer of my ninth year, we moved back to Hanoi, Vietnam and Facebook was booming. I eventually caved because emailing my friends and teachers in Sydney was getting exhausting. The long addresses, formalities and stress of ending signatures were too much for an emotionally torn third culture kid. It was a refreshing new platform that also satisfied my gaming ventures with Pet Society and Happy Aquarium. Regulated technology hours continued as my parents strived to improve my crooked Vietnamese outside international schooling, but things eventually got chaotic the as technology was integrated into education. I was given exactly one hour of computer use a day before they realized this shift. One hour then became two and three then back to one whenever I was spending too much time with my digital pet cats or drawing on Paint and Linux Penguin. However, as my assignments piled up with Google Search and Microsoft Office, the rules loosened to a halt.
My next footprint was YouTube. To this day, I still thank that first watch in my primary school library – “How to be Gangster” by NigaHiga. Since then, I spent most of my spare time watching videos. There was a whole Summer dedicated to communitychannel. I would load at least five other tabs of her videos whilst watching one, during and/or between meals. Shortly after, I began to dabble with Windows Movie Maker for some time before uploading my first piece with my middle school best friend. It was sixth grade and we were ambitious self-proclaimed music video stars. We did stop-motion videos with her laptop’s webcam on timer and filmed everything else on our dad’s two small cameras. Silly thirty-minute vlogs or video-logs followed on a lifestyle channel as we got our first copyright strike and felt the need to make a backup space. After a year we upgraded to Sony Vegas Pro, and though our projects gradually faded out in 9th grade, I was hooked. Though, I did go through an obsessive Tumblr, iPod and Wattpad phase, which definitely shaped a significant part of my personality, and ultimately hopped onto the Skype and Instagram train at the time, video production and the infinite world of YouTube fascinated me. I was hungry to create.
In 2013, I uploaded the first public video on my new individual channel, numbnuttt, which I still upload to today. It was a cover of OneRepublic’s “Secrets” with my 9th grade best friend – an overly saturated, low lit, yellow and grainy number, but one I was particularly proud of. I continued to make covers alone and with friends, occasionally participating in viral trends like the “ASL Bucket Challenge” before switching to a different approach in 2015 with a video of the same name. It was my first sit down video. I reflected on the past year and narrowed down three of the biggest things I had taken away. I am now on my fourth year of this series and have scripted pieces, spoken poetry and miscellaneous rants and vlogs also on the channel. My proudest creations are a capsule video I made when I was sixteen to my eighteen-year-old self, and the reply. I have also switched to Adobe Premiere Pro and am on a quest master the other Adobe realms. And I am still hungry.
Besides websites and programs that assist me with school, work, staying organized and globally informed, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube still occupy most of my technological identity. A lot of my work is on the internet. I manage social sites for different student organizations as well as the theatre production that I founded with my high school best friend, FRAGMENTS. It’s ridiculous how wide of a reach you can grasp just through pixels. But besides its gateway to my many mediums of creative expression, I applaud technology for the ties it helps me keep. Growing up as a third culture kid and now living in Chicago for university, I am at most half the world away from my family and friends. But I am also right next to them.
As of this Monday, I launched my new website, flowersandfilm.com, and I couldn’t be more ecstatic and anxious. This is my next footprint. This, as any of the previous, doesn’t spare moments of egotistical torment for clicks and giggles putting yourself on the internet would, but I am in awe. And as much as I hate to, I am proud to say that I need communicative technology and its ever-growing magic.