Who Remembers 1000 Free Hours of AOL?

I remember my sophomore year of high school when I first received those cds from AOL offering hours of free online access. This was back when 33.6k modems were “lightning fast.” Then, I discovered email:

“You mean I can send someone an electronic ‘letter,’ just like that? HOW ARE THEY NOT CHARGING FOR THIS?” 

One of the tech-savviest days of my life was the moment I sent an email to a high school friend with a link to Gatorade.com. I had just read on a slow-loading website that it was possible to send webpages through email. At that moment, I was more excited than Windows Vista users were when they learned they could downgrade to Windows XP. Later, I realized the email I sent really just said ‘http://www.gatorade.com.’ No actual page was in the email; it was just the link. Pretty lame, by today’s standards, but in 1996–

Yesterday, I found a floppy disk for Oregon Trail–you know, the original first-person shooter game. It almost got me banned from playing computer games; not because of the violence, but for the barrage of questions about medicine and how best to settle the wild frontier:

“Mom, what’s ‘dysentery’?”

“Were wagon axles this expensive when you were a kid?”

“Is 5ft of water too deep for 4 oxen to cross? What about 6 oxen?”

“How much grain is enough for a family of four for the next 200 miles? MOM?!”

Needless to say (though I’m about say), when I ‘went’ to college, I really mean Mom ‘sent me away’ to give herself four years of solitude. She hardly even IMed me.

And all along, as social technology evolved faster than Grey’s Anatomy became just a primetime soap opera, there were doubters who refused to see where the social communication revolution was headed. I was one of them. Chatting online all night with friends I had already seen all day at school was only the beginning:

“A cell phone? So people can call me, anytime? Why would I want that?”

“A weblog? You mean an online diary? Yeah, right.”

More recently:

“Uh, no one cares where I am or what I’m doing at every moment. Besides, nothing called ‘Twitter’ will last for long.”

No one cares what I’m doing at any moment, until I’m in line at the local box office and I can’t decide between two movies showing within fifteen minutes of each other. That’s when I whip out the phone and instantly ask hundreds of people which one I should see so that the majority of responses determines my choice. The opinions of virtual friends saying “It’s the best movie, ever!” carries much more weight with me than a thirty-second commercial telling me “It’s the best movie, ever!”

And the second-best reason to use Twitter and other social media: to harass celebrities, like @jeremypiven, until he responds to me. I don’t really care what he says. RESPOND TO ME, ARI GOLD. DO IT. #Entourage

At least my slowness to get on board with the social revolution hasn’t cost anyone a job or massive amounts of money, like:

“Netflix? You mean that streaming online movie thing, straight to your tv? No one I know uses that. People love going to the store to get their movies!”

Way to go, Blockbuster board of directors. Thanks for the Terminator II bluray that I got for $10 at your GOING-OUT-OF-BUSINESS sale.

I imagine this will become progressively worse for slow-adopters who are stuck in a former time when ‘text’ meant ‘words on paper’ and not ‘instant messages between phones.’ We already know it’s bad news for the heads of established political regimes due for overthrow. Protestors use social media tools like Twitter and Facebook to increase uprisings in the Middle East.

Who’s next?


6 Responses to “Who Remembers 1000 Free Hours of AOL?”
  1. roftl…because I remember thinking the exact same things.

  2. gnetch says:

    I have cousins (5 to 10 years of age) who visit here from time to time and they play online games using my brother’s PC. You’ll hear them say,
    “Kill that guy!”
    “Steal that car!!”
    “No, wait. There’s a police! Hide!”

    Yeah. I don’t know what that game is but I’m on the verge of stopping them from playing it. Haha!

    Oh yeah. And I was pretty ignorant about emails and internet stuff when I was younger.

    Well actually, I still am but don’t tell anyone.

  3. talda says:

    Though, Blockbuster might be able to make themselves a viable alternative to Netflix considering the price change. Just sayin’.

    And I’m glad you’re back on Twitter. I will admit that it took me a while to get on myself for the same reason. And here I am, a couple years later and I’m fully entrenched. Funny thing: one of my classmates told me once how he didn’t know about Twitter until he saw me using it in class before it got really big. And it think it was a mere month or so before it blew up. Sometimes, timing will make you look like a genius.

  4. I was also remembering things from my late nineties high-school career the other day. For example, I owned a beeper.
    It hung out of my back pocket so that my friends could page me.
    I also received a ridiculous amount of cds in the mail after joining that ‘receive ten cds for a penny and then get a subscription in which we will send you random cds at full value every month thereafter until you find a way to cut us out of your life’ program. I can no longer remember the name of this system, so if you remember it, please help a girl out….

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