Today’s social media is both very different from the social internet in the 1990s and eerily similar. I’ve often equated twitter with the chat rooms I frequented back in 1995-1999ish. Twitter is like a 90s chatroom on steroids. It just wasn’t called social media at the time.
For a few months in 1996, I used my parents computer to log on to the freenet - in the days of dialup, freenet was the equivalent to using dialup now - pretty painful. There was probably computer access provided at my college, but it never even occurred to me to use it. I wasn’t there long anyway. I transferred to Florida State in the fall of 1996 and discovered the bliss of using a T1 connection at the school library, which seemed to be overflowing with computers.
I spent hours at various libraries - checking email, installing ICQ over and over again (IT wiped it out all the time), playing in the chat rooms and surfing the web. (Oh, yes, we surfed. Does anyone say that anymore?)
The best part about those chat rooms?
They introduced me to Sam, my first online friend in Canada. We were in touch as recently as 5 years ago. If I emailed her today, we’d have a great time catching up.
Mark, a guy who was originally from Ottawa but has mostly lived in the U.S. since I’ve known him.
Shawn, whose 11 year old son hacked into my computer while we were in an ICQ real-time chat. (Shawn was so mad when I told him, but I thought it was funny - too smart for his own good, that one!)
Anne, Shawn’s wife who wasn’t nearly as involved, but was always so nice to chat with.
Ryan, who I met in Orlando (after getting a whopper of a speeding ticket…ouch) and we did 3 Disney parks in one day - good times!
I met a couple of others in-person whose names have faded from my memory. I even exchanged letters with some, which I recognize as being rather odd at a time when email was becoming so prevalent. I used to chat with a guy from Russia who would catch me during my work day - very late for him - just so he could practice his English. Then there was the guy from Australia who was severely epileptic and admitted to drinking regularly and too much - a fairly big no-no with his drug regimen. He would email his writing to me to read and he was SO bloody talented. If I remembered his name, I’d be doing searches on Amazon for his book(s). Surely he’s been published by now.
People wonder why I take the time to use “social media”. It’s because I’ve been using it for all of my adult life. It’s because I’ve met so many wonderful people through it - including my husband. I’ve connected with people all over the world through the Internet for a myriad of reasons.
And it’s been good. Really, really good.