DIGITAL AMERICA

Live From the 90s

// Posted by on 09/08/2014 (2:02 AM)

The days when I would spend my nights in my room on my computer, trying to see which of my friends was online in AIM are long gone. It feels like decades, that is how much social technology has advanced in the short amount of time since my childhood. Thinking about those nights, it is hard to imagine a more simplistic way of communicating and being social with my friends. Now I frequently am connected to several different methods of communication at all times, and car receive instant notifications of updated within the communication. Life keeps on being lived and every once in a while I can get a reminder that someone is trying to communicate with me. Yet, 5-10 years earlier that my childhood social network, the most innovative and futuristic mechanism of communication was this single page chat forum.
What really struck me most about this primitive experience amongst “anonymous” chatters was the envelopment necessary to participate in the chat. In order to use the chat, one must constantly refresh the page and recover all the messages that were put into the chat since you had last refreshed. You could not be doing something on the side while involved in the chat or you would miss out on the conversation.
The idea of disembodiment and the overwhelming concepts for people when this first came out also showed a few glimmers as I remained on that chat page. The background of darkness and stars, and the psychedelic format of the page made me really think about how for people at the time this was released, is was so incredible that they could put their identity elsewhere from their physical bodies.
Another takeaway that I had from this hour-long chatroom experience was the way in which the chatroom change the way I communicated and behaved with my classmates. I knew they were all my classmates, and I know everyone who was there in person, but something about the anonymity of the specific identities of the other chatters, as well as the anonymity that I gained, allowed me to speak extremely openly and without restraint. I could speak and relate to my chatters as just another voice in some forum.


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