One Sunday afternoon in the end of the summer when I was still asleep, the doorbell suddenly rang. It stood 39 empty Coca-Cola cans by the side of my keyboard and the Venetian blinds where down. The computer was still warm. She completely freaked out when she entered the apartment. Then she yelled. She yelled that I should go out and catch some sun, that I should sleep at night and not be on “that stupid Internet”. She had been sunbathing at the lawn at the backyard all day. I just felt for checking my inbox. I opened a can of Coca-Cola and got a lecture about why diurnal rhythm was invented.

6 months later she is quiet. That whole year when I was awake round the clock gave me something. It was here the future laid. I sacrificed my sleep, a suntan, fresh air, friends, health and gained a whole new life in return. I was born in August 1995. It was then I made my entrance into the secret society. There was a time. Now it’s different.

Things have changed. There was a time when all homepages had gray backgrounds. There was a time when every new piece of HTML was a new experience. There was a time when you screamed “eureka” and “cowabunga” all trough the nights. When you almost got religious. There was a time when a warm and cozy feeling spread trough your stomach every time a new e-mail arrived. There was a time when only a selected few homepages ended up among my bookmarks. When every new program you learned was a new spiritual experience (Netscape, Eudora, IRC, ftp, mud, in that order). It took almost exactly one minute to check for mail (but you got stuck for hours anyway, the time just ran away). When the one’s and zero’s got own life and started to run around on the screen to form logic, logic in my brain. “But, you have never been good at math. Can you make a homepage?”. Then came a crackle and some sparkles and nothing became as it were. I believe it started after Christmas. After that Netscape was named 1.22 and everyone had messy backgrounds on their homepages. The modem pool was always occupied (oh, I love that sound). You could no longer decide to meet with a friend on an Internet chat because you never knew if you were going to get trough. Then it sparkled once again. And again. And again.

Nowadays I’m running around in the background. I can still find to my favorite spots on the net, those I found as a novice. I look at them often. It doesn’t happen so much there anymore. A lot of sites end up among my bookmarks. But I never have time to look at them. Suddenly everyone have homepages. Even if there isn’t a homepage you always assume that there is one. All pages look good today. At least more of them do compared to how they looked one year ago. It’s like all homepages have lost their souls. It doesn’t take a minute to check the e-mail anymore. It takes two hours. When I learned how to join mailing lists a part of me died. When I learned how to read “news” on Usenet another part was gone. It isn’t often you shiver with excitement anymore. You might heighten an eyebrow to a nice signature.

There was a time when an unpleasant emptiness spread when you closed the chat window. Like you’ve just climbed out of a time machine. Like you had been transported a few hours in time and suddenly went back to reality. Today it feels very ordinary to close that window. Chat window or not.

There was a time when unpleasant emptiness spread when the modem click noise told you that you no longer were online. Now it feels good to finally be able to go to bed. It was far too long ago I came to school with tired eyes because of too little sleep. It was way too far ago.

There was a time when you were a pioneer in everything you did on the net. Now you don’t give damn, it’s probably already done anyway.

There was a time when I got lost wherever I went.

I want to be transported into another world. I want to run on a lawn, scream. I want the time to go faster. To be swallowed up and forget the time. I want to find what I search on the first try and I want to see something I haven’t seen before.

Once upon a time the net was a secluded corner, a fake world. My escape. My passion. I guess that I am the one who has changed.

D.A., autumn 2000