I have caught myself complaining recently about the UNACCEPTABLE loading speeds of a few websites on my smartphone recently (up to 5 seconds – ridiculous, right?)
But then I remembered what it was like to connect to the Internet back in my childhood. Most of us probably got to experience what it’s like being online in the late 80s and early 90s. There seemed to be barely anything on the web at the time. And the things that existed looked a bit like this:
Come to think of it, people were creating images and even animations from a precise placement of multi-coloured characters back then. It must have taken some real skill, huh? In the 90s, I also remember spending hours on the predecessor of messenger, AIM. That felt like something out of this world at the time. Connecting with your friends and also strangers in an instant? SURE. Pressing the cathartic WARNING button when they pissed you off? Blissful. Why didn’t we have any campaigns stressing the dangers of strangers on the internet, again? We might never know.
Space Jam was another site I distinctly remember visiting often. Why? Because it looked rad! The movie itself was the bees knees, too. (the original site, surprisingly, still exists. Marvel at its beauty)
I have been cruising down the memory lane for days now, reminiscing on hours of my youth spent online. Then it hit me: my poor Neopets must have starved without me feeding them for all those years! I tried revisiting the site (to no avail, I think my login details have been lost to time forever), but it just doesn’t feel the same anymore. It’s fascinating how different our visual memory is from the truth. Do you also sometimes think to yourself: ‘Crash Bandicoot looked even better in my day than it looks now’ only to look up the images and get disappointed in your own memory? Because I do it way too often.
Also, how could I fail to mention the soundest sound of all sounds – dial modem connection. It took nearly HALF A MINUTE just to connect to the internet! So you sat there only to get shouted at by your parents 5 minutes later for occupying the phone line.
(Sweet Lord in Heavens, I hummed this sound along with the playback flawlessly despite not having heard it for over a decade)
My point is, next time you are getting frustrated at mere seconds you’re losing because of bad connection, just remember the beginnings of your online journey. It will put a smile on your face and make you realise just how much more accessible everything is now compared to the past. Regardless, I would still like to go back to the 80s to feel the awe of Internet connection when we, as species, got to experience it for the first time.
You did us all a solid, sir Tim Berners-Lee. We’ll forever be grateful.