Friday, July 02, 2010

Things I Don't Miss

"Things Facebook Killed" edition

1) "Lucky" e-mail forwards

In 1999, the Internet was still a vast frontier. The Net then was largely an unholy hybrid of corporate sites and GeoCities hackery, and people communicated with one another through e-mail. This “e-mail” thing involved sending electronic messages via such quaint entities as “AOL,” “Hotmail” and “Your College Server,” so that a person on the other side could receive and read it instantly. E-mail was like a crude Facebook, with a 2 MB limit. It was a revolutionary mode of communication that would eventually connect us all and make first-class mail and reading anything on paper completely obsolete.

But as often happens when you give celebrity-obsessed Americans unfettered access to instant worldwide communication, they start using it. Because people really care what they think. Combine that with our national pastime of lazily adopting others’ words as our own, and the byproduct couldn’t possibly look like anything other than what it did.

Now make a wish!

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Don’t cheat, or whatever...
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You know, typing out even one of those things is tedious...
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There. Your wish came true. NSYNC should be here any minute.

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Despite MySpace’s best efforts, these forwards did not die (though good web design, literacy and taste were collateral damage). It took Facebook to have no viable outlet for them for my wish to really come true. So even though that means my e-mail account is 99 percent Facebook messages these days, at least people are saying stuff again.

And speaking of MySpace...

2) MySpace

My MySpace space is a bastard child on its face. Whereas I joined Facebook in early 2005, when only college students were allowed, my foray into MySpace was a long-delayed effort to connect with everyone not on Facebook. I joined in September 2006, being the last American under 30 to join the site (I have a certificate signed by Tom and everything).

The reason for the dithering was because I never liked MySpace. By the time I created an account, I had been blogging for more than two years, and I had taught myself enough HTML to be completely horrified by the interface.

Not that that’s what it takes to be horrified by the interface. It’s terrible on multiple levels, the most obvious being that the appeal of bling-bling is that you’re showing off your conspicuous consumption. An animation of diamonds and dollar signs? That’s just sad. Like a dollar-bill tattoo on your love handle. Good luck making change!

MySpace had the bulletin board, which was a proto-feed where your friends could share messages. It differed from Facebook’s later version in one key aspect: on MySpace, you were still semi-anonymous. Your friends might have known who you were, but you could still claim plausible deniability if somehow your rant about Obama’s stool testing positive for communism made its way into your boss’s inbox via e-mail forward. Also, you weren’t online friends with your boss. That too.

When Facebook opened its virtual doors to everyone, that was the end of MySpace’s relevance to the masses. Bands still use it, though, which is convenient both for them and for me, so I know to ignore them outright.

3) Porn e-mails

That’s what the rest of the Internet is for.

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