As the late nineties witnessed a massive shift from the conventional protocols of communication to the internet, almost everybody wanted to give a piece of his mind on the new find. Everybody was talking in fancy jargons, and I was feeling out of place. Only some of my tech savvy friends had an idea of what a browser is, and would make it a point to discuss it, the intricate details of chat, messenger and other things that would be known to them in the most superficial way. The others would look upon them as if they had conquered the world, mesmerized by their half knowledge. Maybe I was too naive to understand the technological revolution happening around me, but I tried to work my way through it as slowly as possible. First of all, I felt there really was no need to go about learning the internet, since at that time, it really did not impact my life in any way. So, it was a slow start in the world of computers for me, as I was slowly exposed to the big bad world of connections.
As I immersed myself in mails, opening an account with the then niche email provider, Net Address, I was filled with awe and wonder, creating diabolical IDs like electro_praveen, tronics_guy@... and other unthinkable names. The usage of electro and tronics stems from the fact that I had done my Engineering in Electronics, and I thought that it would be cool to hand out my email ID that had a professional touch to it. Little did I realize that it was far from it! I did not find anything wrong with such IDs because half of my friends were running around with weird names. Everybody had a crude justification as to why he chose what he chose, and it left each of us lingering with a lot of self-doubts as to whether we had hit upon the right tags. OK! We have the email address, but what about the next step. We had to check our email at least once in a while to know who is spamming us. But, every time I went to the nearest browsing center (which was once every six months), I realized that I had forgotten my ID and so, I ended up creating a new one. That might explain why there were so many accounts created with different service providers. Another interesting aspect of email creation was that, the password had to be guarded fiercely. You look around in every possible direction hoping that nobody is seeing you type, lest you lose all your spam content in your email. 5MB of storage space was heaven!
Next stop was one of the million chat rooms. Those days, there was a craze with a chat program called MiRC, which hosted many a room. Just like others, I was drawn into one of the rooms. I realized that chatting could be quite a difficult proposition, with a million short forms doing the rounds. CTC? ASL? GTG!! left me whining. Chat rooms are not for me, I thought. Only when I later asked my friends did I realize that CTC meant care to chat; ASL stood for Age/ sex/ location; while GTG meant got to go!!! Oooh! Later during my chat experience did I realize that if a male calls you for chat and pops this short form ASL, you have no chance of getting a response from him if you reply 22/m/ Bangalore (22 Male Bangalore). You have almost sealed the chat session with the female hunter, and then you realize that this is how the chat world works, and the adaptation process starts. My tryst with chat rooms failed to take off in a nice way, as I got tired of finding someone genuine to chat over a period of time. After a few boring experiences, I stuck to chatting with known people, and that too, on a very irregular basis. I still feel that chatting is an absolute waste of time, which has absolutely no value attached to it.
Today, as the internet world grows, as everything finds its space in the online world, you realize that you are virtually handicapped without the online connection. It is easy to work your way through paperless connections, and the click of the mouse presents a myriad of opportunities to find what you want with the minimum of fuss. It is wonderful to know what's happening in the other end of the spectrum within a flash, thanks to the online media that churns news continuously. So, as I go checking my mail every fifteen seconds, as I wait for the news update, I realize that a part of my life has got stuck to the online world, knowing fully well, that this is a bridge that cannot, rather should not be broken.