Gather round children. Today we’re going to learn about the way people used to speak online. About the time before hashtags and terabytes. Before ROFL and NSFW.
1. I’m on the internet.
In the 1990s, the internet was something the user was either on or off. That painfully slow process of going online was made quite clear by the musical sound of the modem dialing up a connection. But thanks to Wi-Fi, smartphones and broadband flat rates, today’s western world takes a life online for granted. As wearable technology brings connectivity to a completely new level, the question is no longer “Are you connected?” but “How connected are you?”
2. OMG, LOL YOLO is so RIP.
Since it appeared in October 2011, YOLO (You only live once) has been tweeted over 36 million times, according to social analytics site Topsy (via ABC). The acronym became a popular hashtag when bragging about in the context of dangerous acts, ironic given its distinctly mortal message. Arguably, YOLO had peaked when Ervin McKinness tweeted “Drunk af going 120 drifting corners #FuckIt YOLO” before crashing his car, killing himself and four friends. No sooner than everyone understood what it meant, it had already become uncool. This hashtag lived a life according to its own message. YOLO only lived once and it made it the most of it.
Drunk af going 120 drifting corners #FuckIt YOLO
— 2.7.5 Inkyy (@ink2flashyy) 2. September 2012
3. I’m surfing the web.
“Man, I was surfing the web last night. They’ve got some amazing stuff on there.”
The web was initially seen by many as something trivial which could easily be “surfed”. But adolescent users soon discovered the internet was more like the web of a deadly spider. The interweb (another obsolete term) was, in fact, a sticky trap, an addictive habit only interrupted for meals, new episodes of Friends and when your mother needed you to “get off that internet” so she could make a phone call.
“But mum, I’m surfing the web!”
4. I’ll burn you a copy.
Once upon a time, the newest computers could not only play CDs – they could even burn them. Why not just copy some MP3s onto a stick? In those days, you were lucky if you could fit 64MB of files onto a flash drive.
And it wasn’t music you could copy. Films, games, documents, porn: you name it – you could burn it. Not since 1940s Germany had so much creative content been burned.
5. Did you get my email?
When the email first gained popularity in the mid-1990s, it was received with a mixture of excitement and mistrust. There was something magical about registering that first Hotmail account with two entire megabytes of space. And yet one could never be sure of what actually happened once you press “send”. It was not uncommon for a person to immediately follow up an email with a phone call: “Hi, I’m just calling to see if you got my email.”