Monday, April 1, 2019

A to Z Challenge Day #1 A---AOL

It was pretty exciting, meeting the internet for the first time. It was everything.
I’ve found a few pictures that show you a little bit what it was like but it just doesn’t quite capture the feeling. Computers were big and clunky, with a lot of cords, and took up a significant portion of desk space. I used mine mostly for word processing and the odd IRC games. But in order to use this new thing called the internet, you couldn’t also use the phone, or you had to have a separate line, and that was usually a sign of semi-prestige. It sounded like this:
Sound of a dial up
And this is what I remember from the choices, which to me opened a world of possibilites. Yes, of learning and of research (nerd, remember?) But also of identity. Here I could safely and quickly search for things about myself that I knew my little library at my school was not going to carry. While our little library did actually have a few slim volumes that discussed LGBTQ people and teens, and some volumes of Sapphic poetry, it was not hardly enough and not hardly surprising considering it was a Catholic girls school, so it wasn’t going to be stocking the shelves. I needed more, and look, here was a brand new resource I could use. I don’t remember having a computer lab in high school, that must have come after my time. As for AIM, it seems to comprise the majority of other people's memories using AOL, that and the embarrassing usernames and bizarre chatrooms. I didn't use AIM all that much, and chatrooms were fun to lurk in, occasionally, but weren't really my style. I was an observer, a researcher, an anthropologist, you see. My eyes were open, and I wanted to learn. Different connection running in different connections, all running along these lines faster than the speed of light ready to connect me to who I was and tell me who I could be once I was free of everything and out in the world. The web would be my launch pad, only I didn't know it quite yet. It was just then a place to kind of good around and play solitaire and maybe write a few essays.

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