One of the weirdest things in my entire life is that, for something like two years of my life, I was active on IRC message boards—the MSPA IRC. In the 2010s!
(For the youngsters: IRC is “Internet Relay Chat” which means, basically, Discord/Slack chats except way clunkier and low-tech.)
The speed at which the internet has changed is sometimes hard to fathom, until you look back and see where you were ten years ago. And IRC was where I was at. The infamous techie chatrooms where people go to pirate media or plan protests, where D.A.R.E. warned kids never to venture. But really, it was just a place to hang out.
Sure, Skype existed at the time and video/voice calls were becoming more common, but even by 2011 this wasn’t the end-all-be-all. IRC still thrived for weird niche communities. And at this time, Homestuck was ABSOLUTELY the kind of niche community that would be deeply invested in IRC.
Therefore, here came the MSPA IRC. So many of my Homestuck memories revolve around this antiquated piece of chatroom tech!
The MSPA IRC & Fun Times
The first time I went on IRC, using Mibbit, was to chat about project work for the [S] Rex Duodecim Angelus fan animation project. Since nobody bothered to archive any of these chats, they’re all lost forever. But we still got a crap ton of work done in that time and helped organize the whole thing after the original mind behind it disappeared. Most people on the chat were artists, but I helped by making tons of storyboards and being the “ideas person” for a while. Having a group chat helped keep the project alive long enough to eventually be released!
Then some forum friends and I did an “MSPA Re-Read” where we each read through all of Homestuck together, to a certain page each day and discussed the jokes and lore and theories together. After the re-read, it stuck around and we chatted a bunch for years to come. Thanks to computer troubles I was gone a few times but I think I had developed a reputation for “constantly being online at all times” which actually started to annoy people after a while. Teenagedom!
The main MSPA IRC was always fun, but there were lots of other MSPA-related IRC chats with different people. And there were lots of side-channels and spin-off chats and it became really hard to keep track of… but that kind of chaotic world was normal back then.
Also, here is one random chatlog I have saved from 10 years ago. If anyone can decipher it, it means you are a massive nerd, and I love you.
Why I Stopped Using the MSPA IRC
I think there was some drama or whatever that pushed me off, but it was all just teenage histrionics like usual. The real reason I stopped is because, weirdly, I made some lasting internet friendships through it.
The main appeal, and drawback, of IRC was that there was no proof of anything. People came on with usernames but you never knew who was really who. Chat logs disappeared if you logged out, unless you had archival programs running. And anyone could enter or exit the chat at any time, as long as they had the link. Very ephemeral in a way the internet almost never is anymore.
That meant a lot of cool people could drop in. But a lot of creeps and weirdoes could too. And in bigger chatrooms it was just too hard to follow.
So once I made friends, we moved to a private Skype chat, and I rarely visited IRC chats ever again. Just like the rest of social media, my internet life became that much more curated and personal. We moved to a Discord chat after that (Skype is awful), and that’s probably where we’ll stay for good.
Discord is… interesting. It’s a lot like IRC, minus the anonymity or disappearing messages, and you have much more control over the experience when you own a server. It’s no wonder practically every indie nerd-related community has a chat by now! But it’s also, because of those changes, a vastly different experience. There’s all these massive, curated communities with tons of moderators and a billion channels with strict rules, and basically everyone on there is still a teenager. I’ve wasted years of my life on Skype and Discord, so I know the appeal. but I also sometimes feel nostalgic for the MSPA IRC too.
We’re in such a different place on the internet these days, and the MSPA IRC has long since disappeared. But even so it helped me meet and bond with some of my closest friends.
Here’s another Homestuck article about the last time the comic truly interested me: [S] Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 1.