As I was watching You’ve Got Mail (probably my 4th time) before dozing off last night, it was funny to see how back then, things like the internet, America Online, and email, could disturb the fabric of a society, in this case New York City, just because it accords people a different experience from that which they have in real life.
It was funny seeing Tom Hank’s character Joe Fox and Meg Ryan’s character Kathleen Kelly, exchanging emails as anonymous individuals without even caring who or what the other individual might be. Probably because this was in 1998 and the Internet was just exploding yet to the international consciousness. There were still very few horror stories about it.
Back in ’98, the computers were slow and so was the Internet connection. Most PCs were run by Pentium Pro (which others called Pentium I) and people contented themselves with Internet speeds of 56 kilobytes per second. Yes kids, life was like that back then.
The movie took me back to memories of my early experiences with the Net. I first learned of the Internet through my Jesuit English teacher in ’96. And back then we used Netscape for browsing and Yahoo for searching.
The average cost of an hour in an Internet cafe was 75 Pesos ($ 2.50, using the old exchange rate) for the 1st hour and 50 Pesos ($ 2.00) for the succeeding hours. We always had to wait for the whirring sound the modem makes, before an attendant would tell us that it was already good to surf.
But, considering the speed, me and my classmates would often times find ourselves chatting in mIRC chat rooms instead of doing research. We exchanged thoughts with people we didn’t know from the other side of the planet, while waiting for the website pages to load. Yes it was that slow. But it was okay. There was nothing you can do about it.
I guess that experience of the old Net is the reason why I find it funny whenever I hear someone, or read a rant from someone, on why the Internet connection is slow. Then I would tell myself, ah it’s a kid, no wonder.
People who have surfed the Net back then have more patience than those who already got on to it with at least Pentium 4 processors and 112 or 320 kilobytes per second. All the more impatient would be those who got onto the Net when it was already on DSL and 3G connections.
But as one who used the Net then when it was still in its growing years, I would always be able to distinguish who has been long enough on the Net, and who is just brimming with enthusiasm and vigor without understanding how what he or she is enjoying came about and the pains that went along with it.
Patience is a virtue true then to users of computers and the Net. And it is something lost with those who frequent the Net nowadays. Then again, the speed of computers now available and the connections which can be used, allow greater work and entertainment to be derived from the Internet experience. Something back then, we had to really wait for in minutes and even hours just so we could have it.