10 Early Memories Of The Internet According To Reddit That Will Make You Wish You Could Hit Up A '90s AOL Chatroom, Stat
Do you remember your earliest memory of the Internet? These days, life ceases to exist in those rare (horrifying) moments when the Internet in unavailable to us. I'm not ashamed to admit that we are living in a digital world, and I am a digital girl. But an AskReddit thread got me thinking about the olden days, before we were all cyber-Spideys slinging the World Wide Web from our fingertips a moment's notice with the touch of a keyboard. Sadly, my memory is a little rusty, so I turn the question over to you — can you recall the first time you experienced the technological sorcery that is the Internet?
Depending on when you were born, your answer may very well be wildly different from the fuzzy recollection slowly coming back to me of playing a horse race betting game on a free gamer site. I always bet on the tiny pixelated pony with the worst odds — I'm a sucker for a long-shot — so it's a fortunate thing the money I used was animated as opposed to real. If you were born in the decades before me, you may remember very little other than a black screen and blinking green or blue text. If you were born in the decades after me, well, you're a full-blown digital baby. It's entirely possible your earliest Internet memory is documented somewhere on social media. The Internet has been around for almost 70 years, so it's logical that people's perception of it will vary dramatically according to age.
As for the crowd on this particular AskReddit thread, that diversity of recollection is definitely represented. But, word to the wise, so is the fact that boys are gross and not at all embarrassed about exchanging graphic tales of early, elicit Internet usage. Don't say I didn't warn you. While those posts may make you want to coat your mind's eye with antibacterial soap, many of the memories will just make you feel nostalgic for days gone by — and perhaps wonder what happened to some of your favorite sites. So here's your end-of-week dose of technological perspective, as well as a quick status update on favorites sites and Internet activities of yore.
1. Where Forth Art Thou, Yahooligans?
Ah, yes... back before your parents realized they really couldn't trust you on the web, they didn't trust you enough to shackle you to this kid-friendly search site that churned out age-appropriate content. Although Yahooligans! became Yahoo! Kids in 2006, the entire portal was discontinued in 2013 so the company could focus on mobile apps.
2. Dirty Word Searches
Status: Undoubtedly still thriving.
For starters, we've got to give this kid a little credit, right? Flooding the computer's search engine with innocuous terms like "apple" to throw his parents off the trail of his less-than-PG explorations was pretty clever. Nowadays, there are more ways to delete search engine history than you can shake a stick at.
3. Online Hangman, Party of One
Status: Alive and well... er, you know what I mean.
What a refreshing outlook on life this sappy chap has! Who cares about the incredibly slow lag time and obvious limitations of early Internet when you can play a rousing game of Hangman online? His is an attitude of gratitude, my friends. Also, who didn't play the heck out of some Hangman back in the day? Fortunately, there are a zillion online Hangman sites now that let you play against friends and strangers.
4. Forgotten Neopets, unite!
Status: Still around.
Sadly, who knows how many poor Neopets suffered the same fate as FetchFresh's cute Meerca. I know mine certainly did, but my digital pet's languishing doesn't keep me from looking back fondly upon one of my most favorite early Internet pastimes. Today, Neopets are just as cute (if not more so) and come with way more options. Learn from our mistakes, and don't forget to feed your little guy.
Status: Going strong.
Back before Law & Order: SVU alerted us all to just how many creepers there are lurking in the dark crevices of the Interwebz, we were chattin' it up with people from all over the globe. Back then, we rarely stopped to suspect they may, in fact, be pervy middle aged men sitting around scratching their balls. And, that's totally still a distinct possibility, considering chat rooms are still up and running.
6. Hampton and the Hampster Dance
Admittedly, I had to look this one up and now I know why — "The Hampster Dance," which was a song by Hampton the Hampster, didn't make its debut until 2000. Logically, because I'm old AF compared to some of the people on this Reddit thread, this little ditty was not one of my earliest memories. These days, Hampton is living the high life with his own website, games, and merch.
7. The Happiest Three Words Ever
Status: Still making people's days.
When I first began dabbling on the Interwebz, AOL was all-powerful and these three little words held the key to everyone's happiness: "You've Got Mail." Since I no longer have AOL, I'm not entirely sure if AOL mail still utters that phrase, but you can definitely still go get yourself and account.
8. YouTube World Order
Status: Approaching world domination.
This would fall under the umbrella of earliest Internet memories for young Millennials, given that YouTube was formed in 2005. Since those early days, this video-sharing website has grown into a cultural phenomenon capable of launching careers and wasting entire work days with kitten vids.
9. Emoji's Older Cousins
Status: You'll have to get back to me.
I distinctly remember being just as amazed as this dude by Windows Messengers' emoticons. Largely because this hot guy I dated once always used this cute cowboy emoticon that did a little dance and swung a lasso over his little yellow head. Emoji have since evolved and even include vaginas.
10. Cover Your Ears For Three Minutes
Status: Living on in legacy only.
Dial-up internet isn't still a thing, right? Like, surely no one still has to deal with the sound that haunted everyone's earliest Internet days. Thanks to high-speed hookups and DSL, we can all silently plug into the Interwebz whenever we want. Hooray for innovation!
Image: Mike Licht/Flickr