If you’re 30 years old or dangerously close to 30….you probably remember the days before Myspace, Facebook and smartphones with the screens as delicate as a fucking eggshell. The days when Yahoo, MSN, AIM and ICQ messenger were kings….you remember the all-American greatness that was America Online aka AOL dialup. The sound of your modem connecting with the “dun nuh…dun nuh…nuh….” sound followed by the iconic “You got mail!” as you finally get a connection at the speed of around “19,000” which means that it might take only 5 minutes to load that photoshopped celebrity porn pic you’re going to stash away on a 1.44MB floppy disk instead of the usual ten minute window.
There was a time when AOL dialup was “the shit”. The AOL years were symbolic of that era of the internet where you were virtually anonymous – you were known by your online handle aka screen name and your “reputation” was based on the way you carried yourself in a chat room or a message board. You had to get down with the lingo: “lol”, “brb”, “ROTFLMAO” and so on to be officially recognized as a proper “reg” in a chat or message board. Just for the record…I was told that “lol” meant “love online” and I sounded out “ROTFLMAO” as “Rot-Fluh-Mayo!” when I had AOL for the first week back in Spring of 1999. When you’re 13 years old you’re gullible enough to think that whatever people are selling you online is not complete and utter horseshit. However, nothing can beat the complete and utter horseshit that is your own dad telling you that chat rooms cost extra and that you must avoid them at all costs!
One day I decided to rebel against my dad’s prohibition on chat rooms and not only found out that they did not cost extra….but they were also full of colorful characters. However, when you become an implanted wallflower at such gloriously named chats such as “I Eat Crayons” and “I’m an Evil Poptart!” it is because the thrill of initial internet access is like a cocaine-fueled horniness that can’t be kicked….until you get TOS’ed* a few times. I remember a few of the names that I passed through on those chats and maybe one day they will find this and go holy shit….Stogie17, CandiKorn17, SuperDooperJay, BPTOME. The chats were a teenage getaway for hormone-fueled ‘cybering’ (cyber-sex) and roleplaying where all the goth kids and other social groups of that era could live out fantasies from their fingertips to their computer screens involving old sycamore trees and poorly maintained Halloween decorations hanging above them as they screw on a bed that is a picnic table cover.
An example of ‘cybering’ in 1999-2000
GothKidColin: ::Starts fucking Nicole::
GothChickNicole: ::Weak moan::
GothKidColin: Fuck off! You’re ruining it! ::continues fucking Nicole::
Cyber sex is probably not as quite popular today as it was in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. It was like playing Pictionary with a keyboard as you’re “painting” some erotic picture that would only appeal to people who get aroused by Norman Rockwell artwork and black fingernail polish. The way you “won” this game was using your free hand to hurry up so your tension would fade and then promptly sign off AOL before your mom busted in with Rice Krispies Treats and a pitcher of Hi-C. You better have a stack of Kleenex handy so mom doesn’t wonder why you blew your nose in your right hand. However, chat rooms weren’t always a source of cyber sex and premarital lust…some people met their future spouse on there while others will list their status as a ‘reg’ in an AOL chat and their best kill/death ratio on Counter-Strike as previous experience on a job application. I could see it now….
HR Rep: Your application states that you were considered a regular in the AOL chatroom, “I Am An Evil Poptart” and that you once held a 99 kills – 3 deaths record on a 45 minute round of Counter-Strike….I think…
Applicant: That I am overqualified?
HR Rep: No one likes a self-absorbed asshole, son. You’re hired!
— The same scenario could be said that a person that used to use the multi-colored faders in chat would be great for a graphic design position or the asshole that used to spam “//roll the dice” in chat should be a professional gambler.
Whether you lived in the golden age of the internet or not…chats were a big thing. They have touched our lives in ways we can’t imagine. Most people don’t care that you used to raid chats with Skaterboi866 back in 2000…but to you…it made you feel that at some point you were part of something big that made you feel relevant. That relevance you felt was organic and well-earned…it didn’t involve running up a phone bill at the rate of 2.99 a minute where you could have a fleeting moment of relief thinking some chick on the other end of the line is validating your existence. Before I go... here's a feel-good snippet...