The Good Old Days
Not long ago I was talking with my friend Dan about the good old days of computing, the nostalgia with regards to different applications, the cost of new hardware, who was stuck on the worst pc for longer. Rather a sad topic for a couple of people in their mid 20's.
One area that occurred to me was that of meeting new people.
Often these days, most people spend most of their online communication time with their friends and family, the IM and/or e-mail have in large part replaced the telephone enabling people to have multiple conversations simultaneously.
Go back a number of years, there were few on the internet, and even fewer who were capable of ‘chatting' (ie having and using such an application). Back then, most who used such things did so on their own and didn't know many people from the ‘real world', so they ended up meeting lots of new people online.
Hopping onto IRC or some other chat service they'd spend time either with existing online friends from given social circles, or venture out and meet new people. Another common method was simply throwing ones ICQ # at the bottom of their webpage, e-mail, usenet posting or whatever was seen by others.
Heck, it was this way that I met my (now) ex. I was sitting in a Minneapolis chat room and someone entered saying they were from California, and me being the nosey person some accuse me of being, I IMed the person asking "You live in California and are in a Minnesota chat room... why?" And so began a nice conversation, like many over the years, but tapering off over the last few.
There was a time on AOL when many avoided going into chat rooms because of the level of spam they would get. One evening while in an AOL chat room I clocked my level of new spam at the rate of about 4 per second. It was not uncommon then that if someone were try to send you a picture, it would fail because the recipients inbox was full.
Traditionally when you visit a chartroom these days, unless there is a strictly enforced topic or admins to keep the no-good-nicks out, you tend to see two types of ‘people', ones who are looking to score, and bots. The bots are the easy ones to spot, seemingly talking to no one, and somehow all being hot college girls who are home alone and in the mood. The ones wanting to get laid aren't always so easy to spot, luckily (in a way) because of the fact that in many rooms there are so few (if any) people just looking to meet new people and chat, those trying to get laid tend to stick out more, of course, this does tend to drive away the actual chatters even more who become even more infrequent.
Should you run across someone who seems to be interesting in chatting, often there are two things you will hear quite quickly… something along the lines of "A/S/L?" or "Gotta pic?"
Rodney Dangerfield had the joke: "I'm so ugly; when I was born the doctor slapped my mother!" I don't think many would (including myself) say that about themselves or most others, but like most, I'm not some super hottie, and when I do end up chatting with someone, the pic question invariably comes up (always from the other side), and nine times out of ten, within 30 seconds of them getting mine, I get a reply such as "I have to go" or simply silence and often a block.
Of those are looking to chat (or score), they often have pretty high standards, and the only way to know of the other party meets them is with a pic, and should someone fail that test, they become unworthy to even chat with, after all, who wants to talk with an ugly person?
Of course, back in ‘the day', very few had pictures as digital cameras were practically non existent, and scanners were not very common. Not to mention the limited bandwidth, if you were going to spend 5-10 min sending an e-mail with your picture attached, you'd want to be sure that this was a person you wanted to see it, a sureness that often would only occur after many hours of chatting.
What's the point of all of this? Just my thoughts on how much some things were ‘back in the day' Back when ICQ was all of the rage, back when giving out your IP was not something to be feared, back when chat clients didn't by default restrict messages from persons not on your ‘buddy list'.
I guess I find it kind of sad really, how people restrict themselves online from meeting new people online and explore outside of their normal social circles. An interesting side affect of this I think is the whole social networking site craze, places like Friendster, Orkut and many others that rely on existing and established relationships to meet new people, rather than the old fashion random chance.