Life has certain moments that you know you’ll remember forever. You’re usually wrong, because unless you were smart enough to take a photo, you mostly do forget. You can swear that you will never forget a good moment, but you sometimes do. You can swear that you will forget a bad moment, but you sometimes don’t. You can swear that you have remembered something, but what you’re often remembering is the photo of that something. It is just not up to you. Your brain has its own agenda, and decides for you what stays and what gets deleted.
Happily safe amid my set-in-stone remembered times is a moment from 1994 that is as clear to me now as when it happened. It was The Moment. It was the bomb diggity of moments.
I was running a Mac LC 650 at the time, it was my first computer. In those ancient times, you bought a computer without any real thought of going online, you bought the thing for working (don’t laugh, it’s true, computers used to be for working, not Facebooking). My Mac was sweet, every clunky beige bit of it, and was state-of-an-art-I-barely-understood. I loved it like a new child, taking to it like the proverbial duck to water, after drowning a bit here and there.
One day I felt it was time to check out the newfangled World Wide Web doohicky. Like most people of that era, I had only a rudimentary grasp of what the WWW was and what it might do for me, but it seemed cool and I was game to try it. Getting onto it involved buying a modem, so that’s what I did, and not just any modem. I bought a fine one, a lightning-fast speed-demon US Robotics 14.4. Nothing but the best for my Mac and me to go traveling around on those World Wide Web highways and byways.
In those days, setting up a computer to go online was not a walk in the park - unless one is thinking in terms of a walk in Central Park in New York at midnight on a Friday in summer during a heat spell and social tensions - but eventually everything was ready, curses were finally set aside, and the modem started dialing up. My office was soon filled with the sound of music: dial tone followed by beep beep beep beep beep beep dum dum DUM DUM SQUUUUAEERRRK SCHREEEEEE PFFFFFFFFT BRRRADERADERADER BRRRR BLAWWWWWWWK AAAAAWK . . . and then . . . and then ~
. . . all was absolutely silent, and there I was, barely able to breathe for the awe of it, I was actually connected to this mysterious and wonderful new thing. I was a modern-day Christopher Columbus set out to see the world, but without killing off entire races of people while doing it. In that one surreal moment, I felt as though I was floating, moving into something unknown and powerful, something that seemed as though it could change every single thing. And that is pretty much what it did. In fact, it did it so well that we’ve all been more or less sucked up inside of it, and some of us are pounding on the glass, looking for a way out.
Yet, whatever the Internet has become, when I look back at that one perfect moment of discovery all those years ago, I can only say, it sure was the bomb damn diggity.