Welcome to the Chatroom
I think all of us at ASL will gladly admit to being a geek (though I’d like to think we’re cool ones). For me, this geekdom started back when I could be found glued to my dad’s IBM computer playing Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? The game’s Windows version was released in 1994, and I was circa eight years old when I started playing it.
It felt like Christmas when dad got AOL in 1996, which ran on probably the slowest dial-up in the world. I remember it feeling like a personal victory when (after a frequency of dial tones and busy signals) I was finally connected and greeted by the proverbial, “Welcome … You’ve Got Mail!” – well, usually. I then proceeded to check my inbox and forward the twelve chain-letter E-mails to 50 of my friends to ensure my crush would fall in love with me within the week.
Then, of course, I’d head over to the “Kid’s Only” section of the AOL Welcome Page, which was one of the only tabs I could click on under the parental control settings my dad allowed for my screen name (to read more about my first AOL screen name, check out Amanda’s April 8th post).
Enter the world of AOL chatrooms, where I spent most of my after-school hours like a true cyber-nerd. After I’d entered a room that wasn’t “full,” I’d be accosted by a wave of requests that looked something like this:
Babyqt143: hi, parmalat13! a/s/l?
ItalianStud1986: hey parmalat. a/s/l?
Then I’d respond in a form similar to this:
Parmalat13: hello babyqt. 13/f/nj, u?
Of course, responding that I was thirteen usually meant I was eleven. Cue parental warning of Internet trolls and “meeting up” with people I meet online. I particularly enjoy the Urban Dictionary’s definition of a/s/l: “Age / Sex / Location. The mating call of the barely post-pubescent teenager…”
I can happily ensure you my days of random AOL chatroom participation are over. Thankfully, I escaped sans sketchy incident.
But my questions to you are – is the era of the chatroom really over? Doesn’t Twitter resemble something like a 24/7 chatroom? And how many of your “followers” do you actually know IRL? More interestingly, isn’t “meeting up” actually encouraged (i.e. via tweetups, conferences, etc.)?
I guess, though, it also helps that we don’t have that adolescent element working against us anymore, huh?
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Tags: a/s/l, AOL, Chat, digital, Our American Shelf Life, Pamela Seiple, Urban Dictionary, youth