I couldn’t remember exactly when we got the internet, so I had to consult my high school journal. You might think it weird that I would have written extensively about the internet in my journal, but I did. Along with descriptions of every interaction I had with my HS crushes, I wrote at length about my favorite TV shows AND how much time I spent on the internet talking about my favorite TV shows. Basically, my high school journal was my blog before blogs existed.
From what I could tell from my journal, before I cringed so hard that my face fell off, we got the internet sometime in 1996 or 1997. And by internet, of course, I mean the kind that came on a CD in the mail...AOL! We started with AOL 3.0 and I think...I think (?) it went up to 7.0 before I moved out and was introduced to the wonder of network internet that you just plugged into your computer from the wall! No dial up! What?
You guys, though, remember dial up? That ksssh kssh wiiiiirrrrrr noise? It brings back so many pleasant memories. It gives me chills, just a little. Shut up.
Remember how sometimes it wouldn't connect right away? And so it would dial over and over and over and you'd just sit and wait, getting more and more anxious that it wouldn't connect, until finally (FINALLY) you heard those magical words:
I swear that early adoption of AOL is why I love You've Got Mail so damn much. I spent so much of my time on AOL, not JUST talking about The X-Files, but chatting with friends and creating terrible websites and lurking in chatrooms.
Unfortunately, when we first got the internet, we only had one phone line so, you know, if someone was online, that meant no one could use the phone. WE WERE LIVING LIKE SAVAGES. I think I was limited to about an hour of online time a night, which I completely adhered to. Until my parents went to bed and then I'd sneak downstairs and sign on, typing as quietly as possible and SHH-ing the modem.
My internet journey, such as it is, looks something like this:
97 - 2000: AOL
2000 - 2004: Went to college, got fancy fast internet for quick Napster downloads. YES NAPSTER.
2005: Moved out on my own, had to use Netzero or some nonsense dial up because I was super poor and it only cost like $10 a month.
2006 - Present: Moved in with Heidi, then Joe, suddenly everything was wireless and magical.
Or I suppose it might look like this:
1997 - 2000: Used the internet to talk about TV shows, primarily The X-Files, made nerd friends, and messed with people in AOL chatrooms by entering and saying things like, “the cat flies by the window at midnight with milk for the baby.” The a/s/l people did not like me.
2000 - 2004: Used the internet for homework/studying, illegal music downloads, and drunken IMing. Started a Diaryland blog that still exists and yes I will link to it because I have no shame. Moved to Blogger for reasons I don't remember.
2005: Used the internet for blogging. Constantly. Sometimes several times a day. I think I used my blog as a Tumblr before there was Tumblr. "Met" Kat, who (I think?) was sort of my gateway drug to quite a few of you here on this internet (and even some people OFF of this internet...did you know those people exist, because they do).
2006 - Present: I currently use the internet to start and abandon projects and blogs. And like Abigail, I now use the internet for everything. If I don’t know the answer to a question or want to know how to do something, I ask Google. I babble to you all in several different arenas, but not as much as I used to. I use Twitter, Blogger, Wordpress, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google Reader, Google+, GOOGLE EVERYTHING, and even Vox, before it went bye-bye.
I’m not sure what my life would look like had I never become so enraptured by that first AOL disc, the suspense I felt as the modem connected, the deep contemplation that led to username changes, the obsession that led me right here, to a place in my life where not only do I, pretty much daily, express my thanks that the internet exists, but I’ve met the internet. I invited the internet to my wedding. And I can’t wait to see what the internet has in store for me in the future, even if it involves my consciousness being sucked into the matrix.