Once Upon an AOL

Once Upon an AOL

September 13, 2011 Writing 16

Write on Edge

“You’ve got mail!”. The instant greeting to overeager social computer butterflies the world over made famous through a sweet romantic comedy titled so originally “You’ve Got Mail.” Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan had the inside scoop on using the internet to find love. Some people found new hobbies through the once bigger than Facebook online service called America’s Online.

There were groups to be found for everything you liked, from hooking up with the local yokels, to learning the ins and outs of Paintshop Pro. You could plan your wedding on such sites as The Knot while designing your own tags with a group like PSP Friends to guide you. PSP Friends…if only I knew then how much more than just paintshop tips I received. It paved the way for building and maintaining online friendships before forums became popular.

Her name was Shadowy Wolf Eyes, also known in the real world as Anna. She took me in under her wing, teaching me all the tips and tricks that would help me do the designs I do today, hour after endless hour in chat. We would talk about my daughter, her illness, her parents, my family. We would discuss ideas and new ventures much like my online best friends and I do now. We would eventually begin our own online PSP group together called Shadows of Heaven. We made plans to do business together as our knowledge expanded and my experience grew. She led me to poetry sites, boosting my self-esteem, particularly in regards to writing, as needed. Ours was a true and happy friendship, though we had never met face to face.

All our plans died one day when my computer failed. Not in a position to afford a new one, and a lack of transportation to get to places where I could pop online long enough to retrieve the information I needed to keep up with her outside of the internet, we lost touch.

Today, I have tons of people I refer to as friends, and most of them I have never met face to face. This is something that began in boredom many years ago, I went several years missing, and now I simply could not live without.

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Concrit is always welcome. Thanks for reading.

 

16 Responses

  1. logyexpress says:

    Great story, any idea where Anna is now? I’d totally be internet stalking to find her now!

    • DM says:

      no. I tried to find her when I got back online in 2005, but came up dry. I didn’t know her last name, and her screenname didn’t bring any hits. 🙁 I still think about her a lot today.

  2. angela says:

    Oh, I’m sad that you lost touch with someone who was so important to you in this growth of technology 🙁 It’s amazing how much things have changed from those early days.

  3. Galit Breen says:

    First, I’m so, so sad that you lost touch with her!

    Second, I love that movie. Like a lot. Maybe an unhealthy amount? 🙂

    And third, yes. The relationships and friendships and community are breath taking, aren’t they?

    • DM says:

      I have never honestly seen the movie, though I have seen clips. (yes, I know.)

      They are most definitely breathtaking. Thank goodness there are so many more that are worth it than people that aren’t.

  4. TheKirCorner says:

    YES!!! This is exactly how I feel..that I grew right alongside the internet…and met people who mean so much to me even if I never get to meet them. I love the way this piece took us on a journey just like that!

  5. kaleba says:

    These online connections, unimaginable 15 years ago (for me anyway), are some of the most genuine and real friendships we make, even though we never meet in person. It’s a strange and wonderful thing.

    Nice post. I’m so glad you didn’t say Shadow Wolf Eyes died, I was so afraid you were going to when you mentioned her illness. I’m sorry you lost touch. That’s the thing about online friendships, they’re entirely dependent upon (often) unreliable technology.

    • DM says:

      I think if I remember correctly, her illness was more debilitating than it was fatal, but in either event, I have always been a little sad that i never found her again.

  6. Tina says:

    I never actually saw that movie, but I heard it was great. I really liked this piece!

    I am sorry that you lost touch with your online friend! I think that the internet is a great place to try on new hats and meet new people, but it’s nice to have a community, too!

  7. Carrie says:

    I was always jealous about that stupid “You’ve got Mail!” announcement. I SO WANTED TO HAVE AOL!!! But I’m Canadian. No AOL in Canada. At least not when the internet made it’s debut to the unwashed populace 😉

    Too bad you couldn’t track down Anna. Maybe someday she’ll find you

    • DM says:

      canada needed to get with the program. It’s funny because I don’t think you are the first person I’ve heard that from. Deja Vu maybe?

  8. Erin says:

    Amazing how friendships form from just words on a screen. I don’t know what I would do without being able to get online now.

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