Friday, July 25, 2008

The times, they are a-changin'...

Oh, man, that brings back memories... I remember going on the "Bulletin Board Systems" to hang out when I was younger. And, by hang out, I meant to carry on discussions through boards with a lot of local people. It was great - the people there didn't care that I was 12 / 13 / 14 years old, they just cared that I had an opinion that could be reasonably and rationally defended. In many ways, the people I hung with were like the good folks over at Galactica Watercooler, a podcast I love. Age doesn't matter, race doesn't matter, education doesn't matter... just a person's ability to discuss thoughts and to experience new literature.

To show how things change - this would be, oh, 1987 or 1988. A bunch of friends of mine from the bulletin boards got together at Eagle Rock Reservation for a big picnic - like, 25 or 30 of us. My mother drove me to the Reservation and walked me to the park.

Then, she got in the car and went home, leaving me, a 13-year-old, with my "internet" friends.

Could you imagine doing that, today? Granted, it was a BIG group of people - not two or three weird fat guys in overcoats, glancing into the woods furtively and drinking from metal flasks.

The day went wonderfully - full of fun games (frisbee, volleyball, water-gun fights) and food and discussion, trading books and much teasing about silly things and conversations that had taken place. I was the youngest one there by a couple of years - most of the people were early-20's to late-30's, with a few high school students and a handful of college students.

I don't know what happened to my friends, most of which were on a BBS called "Through the Looking Glass." I remember a British fellow who joked that he had no modem - merely two whistling aardvarks. I remember the nice woman that ran the system, and a guy named Buzz that was a couple of years older than me, who gave me a straighten-up-and-fly-right e-mail that stopped me from becoming one of those "n00bs sux" guys (thanks, Buzz from Livingston, wherever you are).

Nowadays, though... if you left your 13-year-old with a bunch of adult friends he met on the internet, DYFS would come and take your kids away - and, likely, rightly so. It's a different world, today.

3 comments:

Sarah R said...

Ah, the good ol' days of "Telnet". My DH (then boyfriend) frequented bbs.isca.uiowa.edu for many years. It was so plain--a white background with black text. Remember how you could jump from one forum to another by entering the numeric (like "63" was the car help forum)? Now we're all "bannered" up. :)

the mol said...

my "telnet" spot of choice was The Resort, which was something out of Colorado I think? Help me out here...but then it was just resort.org and that was that. A friend of ours was one of the admins on there.

Paul D. Keiser said...

Pfft. My dad ran a BBS before the Telnet. You had to call the number directly. Started it in about '83 and ran it on a TRS-80 Model 1 for years. Was giving Compuserve a real run for its money for a long time, too. "The Jersey Shore System".

Too bad he didn't keep up. As I recall, when it finally went down about the mid-90's or so, it was stil compatible with Colecovision Adam...