While looking inside an electrical cabinet todat I came upon this relic of the past, still in the original shrink-wrap:
It was oddly appropriate, because I decided last month that I would abstain from the Internet and meat for the month of February, just to remond myself what it was like, and this fortuitous bit of temporal flotsam hails from the last time that was the case.
It reminded me of the difference that it made to my life, connecting to a wider world via my computer. It wasn’t even the Internet back then, that wouldn’t come along for years, but there were electronic bulletin boards (that you had to wait on an open phone line for) and good old slow and unreliable FidoNet email (which sometimes took weeks or even months to get the mnessage delivered, but had a truly global reach). There were a handful of geeks who lived in my town, and we had fun together playing and writing video games (we were forced to learn to program them through financial necessity, and for some of us the programming became more fun than the actual games, even the store-bought ones), but the scale and variety of online geekdom, even at that nascent stage, was exciting and revelatory in a more profound way than almost anything else in my young life.
There were other personalities out there, as real as anyone I could see in meatspace, who shared every one of my weird fascinations and then some. We could chat into the wee hours about games and science fiction and science and the politics of several nations. We parsed conspiracy theories, taught each other cool programming tips, raved about our favoured musicians and other artists, shared our own art to the extent our available bandwidth and online time allowed (and some of us learned how easy it was to spoof a phone bill to get more of the latter). We could spawn a dozen different personalities to express our different facets in different communities; some were just for fun, some became art forms in themselves, most were cast aside like the moulted skins of trickster locusts while others were absorbed back into the core. Some taught what it was to be hated, a few opened up unexpected love.
In a very real way much of me was born online. Cyberspace has been my home for so long now that I was genuinely forgetting what it was like *not* to be connected up. Which brings me back to the beginning of this post.
I’m no believer, and I have to be my own Saviour since I can’t believe in the one my parents and generations before them were stuck with. My own personal Internet Jesus doesn’t have a lot in common with that mythical Jewish carpenter, but one thing we can agree on:
Three days is plenty long enough to be dead, if you’ve got the option.
(Still laying off the meat though.)Computers, musings, Personal