Chat rooms from the 90 s
Finally, after a couple of thwarted attempts, a chipper male voice announced that you had arrived. “You’ve got mail.” And with that, you were free to explore the web’s pleasantest walled garden, complete with chat rooms, buddy lists, instant messages, and lots of “new kayaking friends”—at least until someone else needed to use the phone line. (I’m looking at you, nsyncrulz971.) But if you’re an American between the ages of 25 and 35, I’m willing to bet that you still use your original America Online screen name to maneuver around the Internet every day—a slightly misspelled, numerically augmented alias such as lil_cheerio_23 or gettobootie37 that you came up with in 30 seconds one afternoon in 1996 after discovering, much to your chagrin, that every unnumbered, conventionally spelled name you tried was already taken.
Maybe, in some cases, it’s too embarrassing to discuss.
You know how video games have all of those warnings about flashing lights and epilepsy? You'd write down all of your pertinent info, and then, at some point, you'd leave a nice note telling them how nice their website was.
That was a legit concern every time you logged on back then. It's what they had before anybody knew what a comments section was, so I suppose in some weird way, we have the guestbooks to thank for You Tube trolls.
But how many of us have carried them into adulthood? Statisticians haven’t gotten around to answering the first question yet, so for now, anecdotal evidence will have to suffice.
“My user name was forged on AOL and hasn’t changed since.