The tile was always cold, the basement always quiet – excluding the occasional chirp from a message from one of my friends, or the typing on the analog keyboard that broke the silence of the midnight air. I still remember the loud clicks that computer made when it booted on, and the crackling of the heated plastic after it had been on too long. The monitor, compared to today, was massive – almost as big as a TV. But I remember the day we got it, being in awe of all that it could do, and all the potential that it had. It was so strange however, all the power it had, and all I ever did was talk to my friends on message boards. My friends having stupid screen names, with mine being equally as ridiculous.
One, two, three in the morning – I would sit on the family desktop computer, somewhere in the early ots of the 2000s. A time that would some come to be a decade that I would fondly look back as one of the greatest to grow up in. Surfing random websites that I would think of, talking to friends about the intricacies of public-school life. The drama, the fun, the heartbreak – all of it in a seemingly “Wild-West” type of feeling. Everything was new, everything was a breakthrough, and none of us knew what was to come.
This whole chain of thinking about this time all leads back to me finding an old CD collection, one that I had nearly forgotten about. CDs that contained music and random things from the early 2000s that I had nearly forgotten about. Because, as it was back then, there was no “cloud,” there was no online data storage. The only things you were able to keep from the internet was what you could throw onto a zip drive, or cram on a CD-R. It was truly like you could have a totally different life experience as soon as that computer screen turned on, and when it turned off.
It was a binder of CDs, with my scribbled writing all over the front of it. A downloaded album of this, some software for this program on that CD. It was just so hap-hazardly thrown together, it was hard to tell what I was actually holding in my hands, it could quite literally have been anything. And it brought me right back to those years, when everything was so new, there was so much change going on. It was a perfect balance of being able to catch up with people in an instant, and being able to truly log off – trying to find scraps of information online for hours, only to realize you were better off looking it up in an encyclopedia.
I think one thing I really miss from that era was the adventure. Everything seemed to be some journey you had to take – like learning how to use a new cell phone to seeing if you could beat some random flash game before someone in your house picked up the telephone and knocked you offline. Everything was so exciting. I miss that feeling of true exploration.
But what I really miss is how humble the beginnings were. No one really knew anything at all – though we all liked to pretend we did. Even now it’s sometimes fun to go back and look at my old screensavers – something that today are a non-issue. I remember sitting in the basement, going through the collection of default screens you could use. Even revert back to the 1995 version. It was so basic, so simple, so new.
Like the internet, I grew up with it – I grew as it did. It started off small and basic, eventually evolving into something so much bigger. I now realized we had the same childhood, and we now have the same adulthood – constantly learning and constantly changing.
But I do miss those old days. Things were easier back then. Simpler. And they really were the best of times.