There was a time when getting on the internet wasn’t a guarantee.
It may seem impossible to conceive of in today’s climate, what with WiFi access basically everywhere and devices that can stream live content with insane picture quality available to the masses.
But not more than 20 years ago, not only did the internet, generally speaking, suck, but it was as unreliable as that uncle of yours that keeps telling you he knows some famous person.
Get him on the phone, Uncle Andrew. Go ahead, I want to literally speak with any member of the 1984 Knicks.
You ever want to spook a younger person? Go and play this clip for them. No way on Earth they’ll ever believe this came from a computer and was the sound of success. Hell, my niece was stunned to hear a dial tone once. The dial-up connection noise would be like some shit out of The Ring. If Pennywise opened his mouth in the new IT movie and that sound came out, how terrifying would that be?
Furthermore, the idea that just because you wanted to get on the internet didn’t mean you were actually able to. That part, along with whatever the fuck that dial-up/fax machine remix sound was, will definitely be the most challenging to explain.
I know that in polite society we don’t really talk about how funny Louis C.K. was, but this clip of him describing people’s relationship to technology is pretty spot on:
So yeah, screw you young folks. Be happy for how insanely fast and incredible everything is now, how easily everything loads and how quickly it all streams—because it wasn’t always that way.
I remember playing video games (specifically, 989 Studio’s NFL GameDay 1999 with Terrell Davis on the cover) on the computer as a kid and hating the lag experience so much that I vowed to only play against the CPU so long as I lived.
I remember getting home, rushing to get on AIM to talk to my friends only to find out that my mom or dad or brother or sister (OR LITERALLY ANYONE THAT LIVED IN MY HOME) was using the phone and I couldn’t go on the internet. I’m only just now beginning to deal with the harsh memories of getting kicked off the internet just as I was about to start up a conversation with a girl (screen name: dme1285, I believe.)
I remember staring, empty-eyed, at the first of the three AOL boxes as my account desperately tried to connect to the internet with ultimately no success.
This was a real struggle.
This was a thing.