This is my internet origin story. Essentially, I was a Luddite from the beginning.

It was probably 4th grade when people began “being online,” by which they mostly meant being on AIM, AOL Instant Messenger. It was treated as another place where kids could hang out, away from parents; in middle school, this would morph back into a physical location, “the fields,” a mosquito-ridden set of sports courts.

I had email: it was from our ISP, Optimum Online. When my friends wanted me to “get online,” I didn’t see the point of registering for an account — wasn’t this the same as sending a lot of short emails? Why not just do that? Why did I have to go through the onerous process of getting an account when under 13, which involved asking your parents for their credit card number and moreover, telling them what you were up to?

I remember the first night of trying to send quick short emails. Too much latency for conversation: it seemed lame and we stopped the experiment.

I then discovered how to evade the hassle of <13 account signup: lie, lie about everything. I just called AOL’s password recovery service and not a single fact I could remember from that time was helping the poor guy key into my accounts.

A bit sad, but perhaps it’s for the best that the away messages and profile text (proto status updates, proto Facebook updates, proto tweets!) stored under FrogertoLily2001 have disappeared into the ether.

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