The year was 1999 and I was 12, and had just gotten introduced to Windows 98 and the internet. The first few months were disappointing, not finding the “games” I’d seen on T.V already present in the PC, then the next few months were downright depressing, finding out one after other that the games I’d seen on T.V might never work on my awesome outofthisworld system. Great!
So I turned my attention to the internet, we had Dial up back then (56kbps promised, read 10kbps). After the initial excitement of setting up a mail account and waiting for emails from “friends”, things got depressing at that end as well. I’d expected the websites I’d seen on T.V to already be there when I log in, which of course never happened.
Then one fateful night, I found ‘Yahoo Messenger’, where you were promised friends, and live chat! Live chat? Seriously? Get outta here! Download. Install. Sign In. And an hour later I finally figured it out.
Thousands and thousands of chat rooms all neatly categorized. Even voice chat! Damn! This was where I belonged! I was on the roll, made a fancy nickname and started my journey.
What I miss about those days is nobody had display pictures, or full names. It was all suspense; you really had to take the time to get to know the other person, ASL, half the people don’t even know what ASL means anymore (Age Sex Location, in case you didn’t), makes me feel like a dinosaur talking about those things.
I verbally assaulted people in the “Fight Room”, listened to women’s problems on “Girls Only” (not a good experience), and met a real ‘hacker’, “Modemmaster”, who I’m pretty sure was also 12 years old though he never said anything, except that he was L33T, which he mentioned every 5 minutes.
I made “friends” alright, cheerleadergirl134, honeysugarluv were my first. We talked about all kinds of things, I mean really talked, microphone and all. We hit it off. We pondered on the big questions of life, talked about the day, they wished me on my birthday, talked about coming down to visit someday and then one day BOOM, I lost my password. Just like that, it all fell apart.
I tried in vain to recover the password, made a new account and tried adding them, but couldn’t find them. Spend sleepless nights in chat rooms just waiting for them to sign in, hanging around the usual spots. They never came back, not one, even Modemmaster disappeared in the confusion.
I still have nightmares sometimes, where Modemmaster is somewhere on a white sandy beach with cheerleadergirl134 and honeysugarluv in his arms, sipping on whiskey, smoking a cigar, laughing. Bastard! I’m sure he arranged the whole account to crash so that he can disappear with my girls!
That whole incident put me off the internet, I drank myself crazy for a few months (Mango juice mostly), stopped paying attention at school, and concentrated on reality for change. And lived happily ever after until many years later I was introduced to Orkut & Facebook.com, but we’ll save those stories for another day.
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