I’m not 100% sure if humanity was ready for the Internet. Here in 2020, we’re really approaching the nadir of Internet culture, in my opinion. So let’s go back to the “good old days!” What are your earliest Internet memories?
I remember surfing the Information Superhighway when I was about 12, which… holy shit, that was literally 20 years ago! Am I old? Well, probably not. Either way, being old is great! I love getting older. I’m so happy I’m in my 30s, they’re amazing. But I grew up with dial-up, and AOL, and buying an external CD burner so I could make mix CDs of all the great songs I downloaded off of Napster.
Some of y’all came of age when the Internet was already a THING, like you had social media in middle school, which sounds absolutely terrifying and I can’t thank Goddess enough that I am too old to have experienced what must be a hellscape for today’s youth. I am blessed there are almost no records of the things I did and said as a pre-teen, because I would be mortified (oops! Actually, the Wayback Machine remembers some stuff). Then again, youth today also have autostraddle dot com and literally limitless resources online to learn about, figure out, and be affirmed in regards to gender and sexuality, so…
And some of y’all were already adults by the time you got Internet access! You were in college going to the library to find information that was in a book and only in that book, and typing your essays on typewriters or maybe getting access to the PC. And now you’re watching the young people ruin their lives — and/or get fabulously wealthy and have incredible success and fulfillment — on the Internet!
I asked some of the team what they remembered.
Abeni: Y’all what are your earliest internet memories
Drew Gregory: SmarterChild!!!
An entire generation’s first experience flirting was talking dirty to AIM bots with a group of giggling friends
Shelli Nicole: Mine is blackplanet for sure
I made a page on their and migente.com for some reason
Abeni: i asked out my first gf on AIM
Drew Gregory: My first serious crush and I went back and forth on AIM with a lot of like “Does your crush have brown hair?” “Is your crush in our class?” until finally we established that we had crushes on each other. Her screen name was Shamrocker17 but I also think I did a lot of this crush talk via her best friend who was GoodCharlotte42.
Abeni: OMG ok i just remembered downloading and printing out nudes of LARA CROFT when i was like 11
Drew Gregory: !!!
Abeni: i PRINTED IT OUT
and got caught lol
Drew Gregory: That’s so bold I’m so impressed
Shelli Nicole: Nooooooo!!
Also learned about clearing browser history due to porn very fast
Abeni: not the last time i’d print out porn lol. those pictures took like 10 minutes EACH to download you bet i was saving them under my bed for safe keeping
Drew Gregory: I just YouTube searched Girls Kissing a lot…
Christina Tucker: ME TOOO
vanessa: My earliest internet memory is crafting the perfect AIM profile and away message and talking to Jason O about how he wanted to date Jenna S
Also loved LitErotica.com, TeenOpenDiary, the weird celeb role playing community on TeenOpenDiary (I was Leslie Bibb and I “dated” David Boreanaz?), and this website called EmoBoysKissing
Drew Gregory: EmoBoysKissing!!
Abeni: emo boys kissing!!!
valerie: i loved away messages. and chat rooms. i may have mentioned this before but i used to be in Buffy role play chat rooms a lot.
we RP’d some gay shit
but i was like “this is fine and normal straight behavior”
riese: leaving song-lyrics as AIM away messages to communicate passive-aggressive points to my ex-boyfriend
Heather: i built a geocities website in 1997 called Heather Anne Land
riese: oh yeah Marie’s Awesome Website exists
Heather: and then i moved on to volunteer moderating the chamber of secrets forums on mugglenet
riese: Marie’s Awesome Webpage contained: quotes from my so-called life, an entire transcription of a monologue from ellen degeneres’s book “My point and i do have one,” and a ray bradbury short story
kaelyn: Before AIM chat existed, in like the mid-90’s, my one friend who also had a computer would get online (dial-up) at the same time and send each other silly email subject lines from our respective SHARED family email accounts.
A little later, like college age and in the height of AIM, I have salient memories of playing Neopets games late into the night instead of writing papers.
Archie: Yahoo chats for RPGs that somehow always became sexual
I also printed out a lot of porn (on a school’s printer/computer !?!) to take home in my backpack.
Malic White: I would pretend to be a pregnant teen in Yahoo chat rooms when I was 9. I also Cats fanfiction on the Broadway World message boards between the ages of 11 and 13.
Christina Tucker: Meeting sarah on a Chicago the movie fansite is truly one of my earliest memories of the internet
sarah: it was a catherine zeta jones website lmao
Christina Tucker: Okay but it STARTED in the Chicago forum then you created the SPLINTER cell
sarah: earliest memory: writing an erotic fan fic about catherine zeta jones and then realizing i was gay. some details: it was a section of a larger “interactive fan fic” which was constructed of many authors, and i just was the one who made it explicitly gay. i wrote it by drip feeding paragraphs through AIM messages to my online friend (kristintexas76)
oh. in 8th grade my friend brittany and i looking up “how to give a handjob” on askjeeves
Dani Janae: Alsooo sharing my angsty horny poems on allpoetry
sarah: omg all poetryyyyyy
What are your earliest Internet memories, y’all?