Difference of Dynamics of the Online Comm from LJ to FB


As a platform, Livejournal is long past its heyday, although it still has a few dedicated users, the majority likely being in Russia since the portal is Russian-owned since 2007. To many new Lolitas it’s a bit of a mystery: figuring out its mechanics, working out what Elegant Gothic & Lolita (EGL) Livejournal is and why there are so many people reminiscing about it with so much nostalgia. So while my journey in this fashion started way after EGL’s decline, I’d like to have a go at comparing the online comm dynamics on Livejournal versus Facebook.

First of all, we must keep in mind that the EGL Livejournal dates back to the early 2000’s, almost to the beginning of Livejournal itself (which started in 1999). When you think about what Lolita fashion was like at that time, you’ll notice that it was more difficult to obtain pieces as they were only in Japan and the vast majority of information was available only in Japanese. For a long time EGL was literally the only source of knowledge on the fashion, as it connected people able to obtain Japanese content and translate it into English with the enthusiasts outside of Japan looking for more information and inspiration. Not only this, EGL was the only resource international Lolitas had about what the fashion was and how to be a part of it. From tutorials to sharing your daily outfits, this was the place to go to if you wanted to become a part of the club.

What’s worth noting is that as the only resource, everything was conveniently accessible. Instead of having to search multiple sites for a single piece of information or advice, some of which might be confusing and conflicting other stuff you’ve found, you only needed to find this one site. And as long as your Google search term was about Lolita fashion or Elegant Gothic Lolita, you were bound to come across the EGL Livejournal sooner or later. This can’t be said of some of the specific comms on Facebook, which can be private groups or hiding under obscure names (would you think to search for C.L.A.M. when trying to find a comm in the North-West of England? or Tea Party Club to find the UK comm, back before the name was changed to Egl UK?). While it’s great to have access to the Internet and the plethora of information sources that it offers, when starting something out it can be more intimidating than helpful. EGL was an online Lolita fashion equivalent of Encyclopaedia Britannica: it contained everything you needed to know in one trusted place across several easily searchable and clearly categorised sub-pages. If you’ve ever tried to link a friend to something helpful to do with Lolita fashion, you’ll know how many links you amass in a short space of time because it’s uncommon now for one page to have all of the information. But wouldn’t it be easier if you could send just one with a note to your friend to keep browsing that site if they have more questions?

More importantly, EGL Livejournal was also the place – not just the only place – for international Lolitas to find like-minded people to share their experiences with. Looking at the Lolita community now, it is far more fragmented compared to the EGL days. Comms tend to create their individual pages on Facebook (or group chats on Amino or Discord chats or something else altogether – see the fragmentation yet?). While there may be some national directories, they inevitably end up flooded with questions like “Is there a local comm/any people in area X?”. To see what people in other comms/cities/countries are doing, you have to either have a friend from there and follow their individual account or be a member of that comm’s page and follow that, which may or may not have to involve being able to read another language. It only speaks of our own need for more interaction with other Lolitas that many of us are members of multiple comms, yet I absolutely understand those who do not wish to be members of more than one. The centrality of EGL meant that whether you wanted a peek at what Lolitas somewhere else were doing at a meet or a tea party, or were trying to find your local comm, you only needed to search that one website instead of trawling through several pages. Like I said, groups on Facebook may be set to private or use a different name, or the page you discovered may turn out to be dead and outdated. Comms on Facebook come and go, depending on how reliable its members are, but EGL stood strong even as more local comms withered away to offer some online companionship.

However, as much nostalgia as Livejournal evokes in people, this isn’t to say that online comms shifting to Facebook is without merit. Yes, friendships have been made and meetups turned into big events on Livejournal, but Facebook is much better suited to the modern, fast pace of life. With many of us having Facebook on our mobile phones, you can connect with Lolitas instantly and live chat with your comm friends via the app. The events feature makes it easy not only to organise something, but also to spread the word to other friends and even other comms. Facebook allows an easy way to share photos and since it offers a translation feature (admittedly terrible, but you can support that with a browser extension), you don’t have to rely on other people to translate any foreign language news for you. The instant nature of Facebook (and other social media) communication means that news within the Lolita community travels fast and we can stay up to date with brand releases without having to wait for someone else to upload scans of another issue of GLB or KERA. Finally, in some cases we can also engage directly with the designers that we admire. Many Lolita designers are active on Facebook and will add people upon meeting them at events or simply if requested politely: Nunu from Haenuli, Fumiko Kawamura from Enchantlic Enchantilly, Babi from Triple Fortune or Yumi Fujiwara from Innocent World are just some examples. This has not happened in the days of Livejournal, for whatever reason, but the fact that so many designers not only are available on social media, but want to interact with their fanbase, domestically and internationally, allows them to be a part of our community that they are, not to be left aside to be simply idolised like an object or a being thats not quite real.

These days, while EGL Livejournal still exists, it tends to stay dead for all year except January as people still continue to use the platform to post their annual wardrobe posts, although less so with each passing year. It’s not exactly clear why they would do that, given the plethora of other blogging platforms as well as social media allowing to share one’s collection in photographic (and even video) form. Be it for nostalgic or practical reasons, the Wardrobe Post Month keeps EGL limping along. That and its warehouse of knowledge, that which is still current and that already out of date.

It’s never been easier to be into Lolita fashion and to start your journey with it than now: we have access to quality clothing at low prices thanks to the riseof Chinese brands and the second hand market bursting with clothes to buy. Brands are no longer confined to physical shops in Japan, instead opening up to the international market via the Internet and some overseas branches. At the same time, as an international community we are a lot more fragmented than before, despite some attempts at bridging that gap (and here I speak primarily for Europe, I don’t know if this is the same elsewhere) and some pages or apps aiming to replace it (Lolita Amino, Rufflechat and Closet of Frills on Facebook, even Wunderwelt Libre to an extent). So next time someone reminisces about “the good old EGL days”, acknowledge the happy memories they cherish and realise that them having had to put all that work in to become a part of Lolita fashion most likely means they have far more commitment to it than those who can jump in and out of it with ease almost equal to fast fashion on the high street, as they join an online comm via the Facebook app on our phone during the morning commute, oblivious to the fact that things weren’t always this casual.

Have you started your Lolita journey during the EGL heyday? What did you like about it and what do you like about the comms being based on Facebook nowadays? What would you change and what would you like to be brought back? I’m hoping to find an answer to at least some of these questions from what of the other bloggers participating this week, so check them out too, as well as share your own thoughts.

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