So people had homepages but we just jammed a photo and some poems on there. It was all Usenet (which sucked, so much regret on there), mailing lists (which were awesome), mailing convos with online penpals (which was great) and IRC (which OUCH MY PHONEBILLS but I loved IRCing at the time). I didn't have a lot of IRL friends so it was so much IRC.
People would hop on mailing lists for some comic or game we were fans of and that's where we'd meet new people and become friends with them and start emailing with them specifically.
That was my 90s. Email, email, email and IRC.
Then in the 00s, it was all forums. RPG forums of various kinds. Also we ran a local-language Wiki community (that led to all sorts of trouble, kind of a good thing that it's defunct, as tragic as it felt at the time. [It's defunct because we didn't keep good backups and just trusted each other and we in the core team went through some breakups and stopped talking to each other.]) with an associated tilde space.
That stopped and I became more of an offlineaholic. Only kept hanging out on Story-Games and some similar RPG design spaces.
I hopped back online because of the isolation during the pandemic year.
My problem now with the types of social media I have attempted to participate in this last year (CAPCOM/Antenna, Fediverse, and back on IRC) is that now it's all tech-heads. Some of which are great, but, it's like "in order to go on here, you need to be a tech-head". I'm like wait, what? That's not how it used to be. We had mailing lists and IRC channels and even newsgroups on all kinds of topics!
The problem is "normal social media", a.k.a. the silos. Normal people don't have a reason to NOT be on "Twitter" or "Facebook" or whatever the kids use. Weirdos can't go on there, because they get harassed (or get banned), and tech-heads can't go on there (because they realize how completely messed up it is that communication infrastructure is owned by a corporation), so those two groups (and their huge overlap) resort to Gemini, Fediverse and IRC instead.
And here we are. And I really, really miss the combination of "normal people" + "good, clean, basic platforms" (such as email, mailing-lists, IRC that's not about a software project) that existed before Facebook and Discord.
And no-one is normal but I mean all kinds of varied people that don't have to get a degree in modemology to dial into the weird Activity Pub JSON port 1965 sftp pong keepalive hellscape we nerds have concocted.
I kinda think Fediverse is our best bet. I wanna (I can't now because I need to spend my programming spoons on my day job) make a mailing list interface to the Fediverse. But the biggest threat to the Fediverse is that people are on the silos instead.