Silent Running

We’ve been online about twenty years, give or take. We skipped the BBS era, but working on campus in the early ’90s, we were privy to the pre-Web Internet: email, newsgroups, gopher. We remember the office geek excitedly telling us about this new software called Mosaic. We remember being excited ourselves about what Netscape 1.1 introduced to the world.

Our life has been almost bifurcated by the Internet: before, after. We managed to reach thirty without it, which, at this point, makes our youth some kind of alien netherworld, full of exotic primal technology like rotary phones, 8-track tapes, console color televisions (works in a drawer!), and free-form FM radio.

You had to be there. And if you were lucky, you weren’t.

We certainly don’t regret our childhood. We had a good time. We could go out and play without the folks tracking us on GPS, and return late with the convenient excuse that our watch was slow. (Yes, we wound it back. Every time.) We had the advantage of well-funded public schools, with band programs that were the center of our social life. Our school days weren’t the stuff of bad family sitcoms.

But what we didn’t have — couldn’t even conceive — was the Internet.

Actually, check that. We did. Sort of. For awhile.

Our high school had a typewriter terminal (no monitor) in the math room, connected to a mainframe in the district office. So did the other high schools. Using a primitive program called Yack, we could send live text messages to other proto-geeks online. But conversations got cluttered, so in 1975 we programmed a “multichannel” version called — we shit you not — Chat. Seemed a more civilized name. And because we programmed it, we had it sniff out naughty words, and scold you for using them.

Not because we were censorious. Because we were devious. We wanted the program to talk back at you when you weren’t expecting it. We weren’t familiar with the word “sentient” at the time, but we would have loved it.

It would have been nice to have that at home — some kind of communications device where we could reach out to total strangers, and engage them in conversation. And since the best way to learn to write is to just write, it would have been nice to have a blog, where we could discover and develop our voice with an audience, instead of scribbling pages in a diary that nobody would read.

It would have been nice not being alone, at least when we didn’t want to be, knowing there were people out there who shared our esoteric interests, and could approach them from a perspective that wasn’t limited to the sentient beings within bicycling distance.

But again, no regrets. It’s just that when the Internet did come along, it opened up a world that had previously been unavailable to us, a world of unfettered, unmediated, joyous humanity. A world we do not take for granted, because we’re all too aware of the world it replaced. We lived the Before; we’ll take the After.

All of which is to say that a couple of douchebags are promoting some sort of Unplug Yourself From The Internet Day, and we think they’re full of shit.


Should You Give Up Gadgets for a Day? [Wired]


We remember being excited to test Mosaic for the world, which then became Netscape 1.1 for you n00bs.

These UYFTI guys are who drive me to drink buy tshirts like this one.

All this royal we-ing makes me want to drop into full court-curtseys. Which I can do. And it’s a skill not often called upon these days.

I’m trying to limit my time online since it seriously interferes with concentration and imagination. But I can’t conceive of my life without all of you losers all you dear sweet funny darlings.

Plus, I didn’t know the geek dial went to eleven.

@maitri: I’m not familiar with that acronym. Something something fuck the internet?

@SanFranLefty: Ah. I would seriously consider slapping anyone who said that to me.

I spent about five minutes online last night due to brain death from work. Instead, I had dinner with Mrs RML and we watched the last three episode of Mad Men, Season 1 while I had a couple of beeg fat martinis.

Just noticed this morning that our pet food scoop is a Caddis brand product from McMinnville, Orygun. Whoooo!!! USA! USA! Take that, China! We’re coming back hard, Mao!

all it took for some jerkwad to start talking about “giving it up” was for it to become fun.

@redmanlaw: Whoohoo!! I didn’t even know we made pet food scoops here.

I went camping by myself in Death Valley last Spring. No phone, no email, no internet. I was kinda jumpy the first day, then relaxed into it.

@Dodgerblue: Although we could not use cell phones while on the way up on our recent pilgrimage in the mountains, we get to bust them out on the way back. Handy for planning one’s midnight pickup at the trail head.

I was deer hunting one day when I got a call from the secretary of one of my partners looking for a file. I said I was busy and that I would deal with it upon my return. I did enjoy texting Mrs RML from my alpine elk camp one fall, however.

I have a 15 percent off coupon from Cabela’s. I’m thinking GPS, possibly a range finder.

I unplug pretty much every weekend. its how I have stayed sane sitting in front of a computer 8-14 hours a day for the last 20 years or so.

Attn: Noje, our favourite second-favourite Aussie* has struck again and I’m wiping away the tears. Did she eat them?

*After CheapBoy, of course.

@flippin eck: I was already laughing when I got to the “tattoos on the face” part…

@flippin eck:

Hellfire missiles targeting Worst Virginny in 3… 2… 1…

@flippin eck: Here’s my fav: “others prefer the company of a woman two KFC family buckets away from upsetting the planet’s rotational axis.”

Unplug? Fuck no. While I do try to limit my hours, particularly considering my day job involves a computer and the Internet, I’ve made too many friends that I only knew as screen names and later met in real life (who were all awesome without exception) to ever do something that drastic.

Hell, I was writing for what in hindsight was a massive group blog/social aggregator before I even knew what the fuck a blog was. (Oh, Automatic Media.)

(How the hell did local TV report national breakers of mass importance pre-Web, where AP alerts are blasted on my computer screen? my parents tell me it involved an actual wire that printed stuff.)

@flippin eck:

The whole bit is awesome, but the very last part made me LOL – much to the confusion of some of my co-workers.

Kudos to David for being classy enough to not send his “fan” a Lastmeasure link

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