Close Encounters…

A factor in my decision to do this 365 blog has to do with social networking. Many things could be said about it. My simple blog entry can’t touch on much more than one aspect of it. This time, I’ll write about my involvement in social networking before it became cool.

I was eleven or twelve and was in the midst of the Internet revolution. For real. I remember getting a Packard Bell 286 computer with a color screen. The hard drive was maybe ten megabytes at best. How cool was it to play Oregon trail without having to switch floppy discs halfway through the game! I remember being inspired by my grandpa who wrote a book on his computer of about the same capacity. The mouse was being perfected and really, it was useless until the age of GUI became the standard. I knew MS-DOS like the back of my hand. I’d be wiling to bet that 99.9% of anyone under the age of twenty five has never heard of the autoexec.bat or config.sys files. Win.ini might be a little more recognizable.

When the 2400 baud modem became the standard, I leaned all about dialing into a bulletin board service. My uncle introduced this awesome concept to me, though I didn’t see the worth in it like he did. For him it was a source of girly pictures and pirated software.

I had my own phone line in the house at the time and decided that it would be totally awesome to make the family computer something that other people could dial in to. I created a little bulletin board service called ‘Close Encounters.’ It was dressed up with ANSI graphics and a fairly user friendly interface to allow people to post to the forums, share files or even download a few pictures of Kathy Ireland in a bikini. Even being so young, I realized the worth of sex to make things sell.

I’d leave the computer on 24/7 just to have it be open for any of the other nerd-types to make their daily log-in. It was a funny world back then. Aside from extensive forum chats about weird random stuff like UFOs and perpetual motion generators, there was nothing really worth while. What made me so excited about it was the social aspect. As much as I hate people, I love people.

“I like being anti-social in social situations.” -My Local Bartender.

I think back to this time in my life and realize how unpopular this concept was to so many people. Would the hottest girl in school be caught dead chatting on dial-up bulletin boards? Nowadays the roles have almost reversed. Some of the most brilliant minds do everything they can to be un-connected to the world. The novelty of the idea is still alive and well within me. How cool is it that we can share our lives with other people in such a medium as ‘computers.’ For some it’s a way to remain anonymous while sharing what you otherwise couldn’t share via normal human interaction.

I could run off on tangents about social media, but I’ll save that for some other day. What I will end this with is telling you that I’ve been there and done that with this whole social media thing. I grew up in its golden years and though I have my doubts as to the health of our society because of it, I also believe it is an untapped resource for bringing us to the next level of our existence. Not in itself, but simply as a key ingredient in bringing us to where we need to be. People are meant to be connected. We need human interaction to survive. Open lines of communication are key to this idea and if we can’t be friends in real-life, I guess having virtual friends isn’t such a bad thing?

Actually, scratch that. We have become irresponsible with social networking and are losing the ability to interact on a face to face level. Sometimes having a Facebook friend is just as bad as having a ‘text-friend.’ Let’s keep social networking alive and well. With that, lets maybe find a way to get back to the lost art of physically being there for one another.

2 comments on “Close Encounters…

  1. I certainly remember your bulletin board. I remember getting Duke Nukem 3d off it when it was still a demo/trial version. I learned about Autoexec.bat and config.sys back in 1999 in my MS DOS class at DeVry. I also remember all of us playing games on our modems while kicking the rest of the family off the phone. Do you remember playing my huge canyon/arcade map I made for Duke Nukem?

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