2005 isn’t so long ago that it’s the Stone Age of the Internet. Social media’ing was all the rage —MySpace was king, some Luddites were still on Friendster, and the new, New Wave was all about poking friends on Facebook. Blogs were around and popular if not accredited sources of information (just like today! “Ba-ZING!”), and if you knew a cursory amount of HTML, had a few free hours, you could be web logging to all of your LiveJournal fans in no time. Craigslist had caught fire (for the web sophisticates of the U.S. Midwest) in 2003 and was a fascinating spectator sport.
In any case, as mundane as those examples seem, people-watching and —most reflective of the jaded 20-something I was— boredom set in quickly. And with the detached, bored, slack-jawed, webgazing and voyeurism came the need to share with friends. Now when I say “share” I don’t mean that there were buttons on a webpage to post to Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, et cetera, instead, I mean sharing via email or IM. Particularly with Craigslist there was a strong need to share the goofiness and madness of others, to wit (actual IM conversations ensue):
[My Yahoo! Messenger Avatar]: “Somebody actually is asking for free rent in exchange for blow-jays?” <Craigslist ad url>
[Friend’s Yahoo! Messenger Avatar]: “That can’t be real.”
[Friend’s Yahoo! Messenger Avatar]: “Check it out, this “crazy” person is just giving away their entire collection of Ranger Rick and Highlights magazines.” <Craigslist ad url>
[My Yahoo! Messenger Avatar]: “That’s nuts! Let’s go get them.”
While 2005 wasn’t the Stone Age of the Internet, there was a strong sense of brazenness to the whole thing. An earned (and novel) sense of the Old West to the entire concept of a social Internet.