i spent most of the latter part of 1997 as an IRC addict. it was the fall semester of my freshman year at UT, and i didn’t have any friends. rather, i had a few friends, one of whom was my roommate the IRC addict. one day my roommate got up from her computer to retrieve her laundry from downstairs. “here,” she said, pointing to her desk chair, “take over for me.”
so i took over. i changed her nickname to my own, introduced myself to the people in the chatroom, and didn’t look up until the following may when i was put on academic suspension. i was lonely during my tenure at UT. with very few exceptions, the people i met on the internet were friendly and smart, and they asked where i was when i wasn’t around. if ever there was a perfect candidate for IRC addiction, it was i. but that’s not what this is about.
my IRC friend mark, a college student in ohio, had his own webpage. almost everyone on IRC had their own webpage, but mark’s is the one in question here. mark was quite fond of using the word hoopla in [internet] conversation, so on his webpage it said “click here to go to hoopla.com.” i did click here to go to hoopla.com, and it was the best thing i’d ever seen on the internet. when i made my own homepage a few days later (in all its photoshop-filtered, drop-shadowed, black-backgrounded glory), i linked to hoopla.com, too.
as soon as i felt that my 1997-tastic webpage was fit for parental consumption, i sent my parents the link. my mother wrote back with a lot of nice things to say about my creation. i’m confident she knew that the internet was the cause of my slipping grades, so her attempt to be positive about it was nothing less than heroic. “you did a very nice job,” she said, “and i really like that thing you did with the birds.” in her internet infancy, my mother apparently never checked her status or address bars, and didn’t realize she’d navigated away from my site and onto leslie’s. it frustrated me then, but now i find it amusing. after all, if she’d continued to click on things, eventually she’d have thought i authored the entire internet.
goodbye, leslie. if i actually had made your website, i’d have been even more proud of it than my mother was. and that’s saying a lot.