I Wouldn’t Want To Go Back To The Ancient Internet Era.

Sometimes when I read about events that happened a few years ago, I feel detached from that period of time. I’m not quite sure how to put into words about what I actually want to say but I just feel like the year that I’m living in is more of a reality than any of the years that have passed me by.

I’m living in a more advanced era in terms of technology and cannot imagine how I survived with all the things that I depend on now. Maybe not depend, but enjoy using. Yeah, that’s the word. Enjoy.

I know this will seem like a strange thing to make of an example, but when I remember what I did online in the late 90s, an IRC window with a black, boring background comes to mind.

I used to log on and chat endlessly with people with barely ledgible nicknames what with the abuse of keyboard characters which was oh so popular back in the 90s. I don’t quite like the idea of IRC, really.

How did we transition from a period where we were ever so ready to make friends with complete strangers to only wanting to communicate with people we know?(either in real life, mutual friends or blogs)

I used to add people randomly on ICQ and message random people on irc, because I enjoyed chatting online. I cannot for the life of me remember what I had SO MUCH to talk about. I was only 11. Where did my material come from? I was oblivious to the ways of the Ah Bengs who can-I-frenster-u back then. Or did the Ah Bengs only infiltrate the cyberworld after the turn of the millenium?

Eight years since my first foray into the internet, I now find IRC to be a very seedy mean of making acquaintances. Is it because of the boring skins of the IRC program which made it look monotonous and mysterious? The list of nicknames on the right hand side of the window that went on and on with nary a hint of the individuals and their vibrant lives which you will never know about if you never bother to ask?

That’s why I feel that I do not like the cyberworld of the past. I prefer the present one. With the onset of blogs, online acquaintances seem more realistic than ever. Some are even more realistic than the people you say hello and byebye to everyday when you mill about your daily routines. Pictures, colourful texts, podcasts, videos.. the list is endless.

I’ve lost the oomph to “chat online” every single day. I used to do it religiously as a child(circa standard 6 to form3). Somehow, with MSN, I only want to add people I know and detest adding random foreign strangers. I use to enjoy adding random foreign strangers(I used to talk alot to this 13 year old boy from Saudi Arabia back in 1998) on ICQ and chatting with them about anything and everything. Maybe because chatting online was a novelty for me at that time.

Have I grown out of chatting online? I still like catching up with old friends and new acquaintances when I get the chance to on MSN or even Skype(but I prefer to keep my Skype contact list to people I hold dear. No point polluting it with random strangers and far off acquaintances).

I have to admit that one of the nicest things about IRC was that you could be anybody you wanted to be and your identity can be changed everytime you logged into the chatroom. It’s different with blogs and MSN in the present cyberworld.

People rely more on the internet these days. Be it for entertainment, business, education, communication or even, er, self gratification(you know, like camwhoring. or porn. or camwhoring in a pornographic way). This results in more established identities on the world wide web. We want to be remembered, we need a fixed identity to go about our lives online.

That’s the difference between the online world of the past and the present.

I wouldn’t like going back in time when the internet was so boring. To me, it was filled with strangers. Most of the people around me did not like using the internet.(I suppose primary school kids of the 90s were underexposed to the wonders of the cyberworld.)

Even sending an email on Hotmail was a novelty to me. What is that button there? Should I click it? GASP! My email! It’s sending! I’d refresh my browser again and again and would spasm in delight when I received a reply in my inbox. I’d fully utilize all the functions in my hotmail account and was even delighted to receive emails from companies that I didn’t know about.

“Dear Viagra, How did you get my email address? Thanks for the email! With best regards, Jolene Lai.”

I would look out for website urls anywhere and everywhere and would go home to check out the website. I’d see a url on a billboard along the highway, I’d go home and type www.hitachi.com or something like that.

I’d latch onto the pitiful few websites that I knew of (a grand total of three websites actually. Bluemountain.com, sweetvalley.com and lovecalculator.com) and spend endless hours refreshing those pages.

Ah, and then there was the discovery of Porn On The Internet. One fine day in 1998, I was frustrated and bored out of my head and simply typed, “FUCK” in Yahoo! I’ve only just learnt the meaning of that word back then, even though I knew it was a very bad word since I was 8 years old but didn’t know it meant “fornication” till I was 11.

Lo and behold, my eyes fell out of it sockets and my mouth was twisted in disgust and horror at the multiple positions that human beings could contort into. (and the scary infiltration of pop up windows. They were like cancer. Spreading.) 

We all lose our innocence at one point or another. *big mischievous grin*

In a way, I’m glad I’ve come so far in the cyberworld. No more boring websites because the world wide web is so much more vast than hitachi.com, sweetvalley.com etc. No more befriending strange strangers online who have nothing to say but only stupid conversation ice breakers. No more being friendly to Spam companies.

I think the opening of my entry is irrelevant to the rest of my post as I could have elaborated on other things like handphones, wireless internet and hair straighteners…. but I think I’ve satiated my repulsion towards the IRC-era with the amount of garbled thoughts I have above.

I do wonder what is it that I cannot live with in the future world of science and technology that will make me detest living in this ancient era of broadband?