Better Than IRL is a collection of true stories about finding your people on the untamed internet. This wild version of the internet existed in a time before algorithms, corporations, and terms of service made anything more than an emoji hard to come by. A time when the internet was still new, and huge, and unruly. No one knew quite what to do with it, but we built our little corners and made lasting connections. With 20 essays written by pioneers and participants from online communities, this paperback (or digital book!) looks at how this specific time on the internet changed us, and how we can take the elements that made it so much better than IRL with us into the future.

There once was a time when you could start a blog post with “Dear Magic Hotel” and find a couch to crash on in a town where you didn’t otherwise know anyone. 

A time when you could find a place to put the writing that was too personal to print out for your writing group to critique. Which was great, even if you suddenly realised a lot of people were reading about you losing your virginity. 

It was the good ol’ days of tweet-ups and meeting fellow nerds and wine lovers. It was a time when the internet meant never having to drink alone. 

It was a time when you, a shy and unpopular kid, grew to be relaxed in your own skin and discovered you were famous on the internet, maybe because you got stuck in a hole with your dog and then Twitter had to save you. 

It was a time when you could find friends who shared your passion for Digimon, no matter where in the world they were located. 

When we felt disconnected or neglected by our partners, during this time we could have friends halfway across the world reach their digital arms around us as we cried.

There once was a time when the internet felt better than IRL. This book is about that time. 

Better Than IRL is a collection of true stories written by people who fostered connection and sharing on the internet. True stories like the ones above, which will all be included in the collection. The book will be personal and hopeful. It won't be nostalgic moaning about how the internet isn't what it once was—it will discuss how it made us into who we are now and how we can take the lessons we learned about inclusion and belonging to be better people going forward. With talented authors from Canada, South Africa, India, USA, Singapore, UK, Liberia, Australia, and the Philippines, the book covers a wide array of experiences with the beginnings of the Web 2.0.

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