Monday, January 07, 2013

Remember When: Musings from the Internet's Infancy

I just finished a good ole hot pink book from the era when I read them a little more religiously (aka before I was with Chef and therefore loved reading about neurotic women pining away in unrequited love while Mr. Perfect was right there the whole time. Now I read about murder, acid-throwing and war.) I picked it up because it used to be one of my faves: Jemima J by Jane Green. It was her first book and she's now gone on to write a shit ton more.

The first time I read the book was back when it came out--13 years ago. A few things have changed since then: I met Chef (online), I lost weight, I moved to Nashville and then LA, and the world became more technologically savvy. Why does all that matter?

The book is about a girl who loses a ton of weight, dates a guy online, goes to LA to live with him, and then finds the man of her dreams was not all she thought he was. Minus the last part, that was pretty much a snippet of my life.

But anyway, the funny part is reading about online dating in 2000. They use a dial-up connection at her job to get online. They were sent to class at the beginning to learn about the Internet. No one used email in the workplace. No one carried cell phones. The journalists in the book used FAXES to confirm interviews. I have never worked in an era where email wasn't the norm in an office.

All of which got me thinking, remember when the Internet was scary?

I remember when Internet dating was so taboo that when I told my friends I was doing it, they were a little worried that I might end up cut into tiny pieces and found in a garbage bag on the road somewhere. (In their defense, I did end up meeting a lot of weird dudes--and one awesome one.) I chatted with these guys using AOL Instant Messenger and was on the Internet for hours because I only had dial-up in my first apartment. I didn't download music because it took too long to get a song.

And remember when we all had different names for the various online identities we had because were too afraid to use our real names on the Internet. Here are some of the online monikers that I used to employ:
PepperClark (my dog's name and my middle name),  PepperCrtr (my dog's name and Crtr was for Carter, as in Nick Carter, as in the obsession of the moment-- BSB was big back and I was a fan, okay?), ClarkCrtr, and CricketClark (other dog's name and middle name). I chatted online to people with names like noname123, TigrRoar2000, and HoosierDaddy0367.

In fact, when I started my blog Chef was called Chef because he didn't want me to use his real name online. Now everyone is pretty transparent about what they're doing on the Internet. I'm not sure that's entirely a good or bad thing, but it's interesting, nonetheless. It feels like that feeling of "Isn't that quaint?" that used to take years or generations to happen is now happening on a monthly basis. "Oh you use Snapchat? you should try Facebook Poke."

Sometimes I wish it would slow down a little. Maybe I'm getting old, but I long to use a typewriter again. I had one growing up and love the "click click click" of the keys. But I guess now I could just download an app for the sound effect. If we're still using apps, or keyboards or sound effects when you are reading this.

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