The warmth of Net culture in the 1990s
Before the insane fascist nonsense that currently pervades our networks like liquid shit on a towel, there were some parts of the Internet that were warm, friendly, and intensely personal. People wrote to each other; they met up in real life; and had communities where mutual trust and support were baked in. Helena Fitzgerald reminisces about them in an article for Hazlitt, Late Nights Online.
All of my chats with him and emails to him, every piece of information, anecdote, fact, and story I told him, were entirely fictional. I understood with perfect clarity that the person I actually was was neither attractive nor interesting, and moreover I had been warned by parents, teachers, other people's parents, and pretty much any adult within a fifty mile radius that the entire internet was made up of malevolent perverts, and to tell anyone your real name was tantamount to already having been sexmurdered. So I invented a different person to be.Helena Fitzgerald
And I loved being her. (I still remember her name, but I'll never tell anyone because it is perhaps the single most private fact about myself.) She was beautiful, funny, popular, and accomplished, involved in many extra-curriculars and had an abundance of friends. She experienced the normal ups and downs that a high school student (she was a few years older than I was—my parents both worked at a high school so I had some background knowledge) might experience. Her problems were interesting, and easily solved. She lived in the optimistic, lovable pitch of a Babysitter's Club novel or a half-hour sitcom. And she talked to her online friend on AOL every day. Older people you heard stories about, teenagers or even adults, actually met people from online, but I had no idea why anyone would want to do that—didn't that defeat the whole purpose?