Another day, another "making your own web site is nostalgia" article. The lengths I have gone to to try to dispell this running theme...
While I do have (some) fond memories of the old internet (my favorite being the much higher level of creativity and civility online), let's get something straight. Making your own web site isn't nostalgia. It's the future of the web.
For starters, nothing is more creative than HTML. Instead of a sad, tiny, highly constrained little square box to put your thoughts in (that ends up being sold to marketers) on ephemeral social networks that have been scientifically proven to make people miserable and depressed, you get the entire web page to put your thoughts into. Or your drawings. Or your music. Anything you can come up with using your imagination. When you make a web page, you're not working for your social network's stock brokers - you're working for yourself.
HTML is durable, dependable, and lasts forever. Seanbaby's Hostess Comics page was made 15-20 years ago, and it still works fine. It may not be "modern", but not bad for something designed using tables (look at the source code). If Seanbaby used a "web application" for that page, or put it on that era's equivalent of a social network (a forum or PHP posting site), it would have been dead a long time ago. How awesome is it that he didn't?
Despite working well for a long time, HTML also upgrades constantly. Every time the W3C comes up with a new standard for HTML or CSS, every single site on Neocities gets an upgrade for free, without me having to do anything. That's because when you conform to the standards of the internet instead of fighting them with backend coding languages mangling everything, you reap all of the benefits. And thanks to institutions like the Internet Archive, HTML persists exceptionally well, even if the hosting provider fails.
Neocities isn't a throwback. We will out-live that "future" programming language you are getting into. We will stand tall throughout history while social networks slowly fade into obscurity and vanish, a consequence of their failure to make a happy place for their users that benefits them rather than exploiting them. Every month, our growth rate (the number of new sites) increases, bolstered by the fact that HTML/CSS/JS is most people's first computer language. The migration is already beginning.
In short, we're the future. Join us.