1. Absolutely nothing in life has ever been or will ever be as important as your AOL screen name. Blessed be the parent who has to endure the wrath of a middle schooler who’s screen name has already! been! taken!
2. If you heard the AOL dial-up noise with that weird crackling right now, you would salivate and then promptly start thinking about what existential, yet approachable “away message” you wanted to put up.
3. Speaking of “away messages,” they were the original Facebook status update and you know that and nobody can take that away from you, ever.
4. If you didn’t create a fake profile using a fake picture and go into chat rooms all across the Internet and type in a/s/l, then you didn’t live.
5. Even to this day, your parents or anyone the same age as your parents, automatically assume you are an Apple genius and tech care representative that can troubleshoot all their computer needs. (And they’re right, because you really can help them with basically anything they need help with, partly because they truly, so unfortunately do not understand the Internet.)
6. You actually remember when porn became a thing on the Internet. (All you had growing up was erotica and that was enough.)
7. You are very concerned with this upcoming generation, because you can’t imagine having to go through all the stages of life having it documented on the Internet.
8. Just thinking about your mom posting pictures of you as a baby all over Facebook makes you uncomfortable – keep those to photo albums, mom, jeez!
9. You are constantly thanking the heavens above for not having Facebook or Instagram or any of these social networks when you were in high school, because holy fuck would that have been a scary experience.
10. You can easily black into the incredible stress you felt trying to pick and then rank your Top 8.
11. You can then black into how amazingly free you felt when they introduced Top 16 and Top 24.
12. You remember when MySpace introduced that feature of adding a song to your profile and that was so fucking stressful because it had to say so much about your identity. It was like everything was riding on the strength of that one profile song!
13. You remember when Gmail (nee GMail) was introduced and you were suspicious of it, having graduated from AOL to Yahoo! email and not being sure that Google was up to the task of handling all your important messages.
14. You 100% remember when Google launched and it was like access to the weirdest, wildest brain in the history of brains and people were all, “This is the next thing!” And you were like, “It’s a page with a search bar… hokay…”
15. You remember when Netflix was DVD only and that, alone, was amazing, but then Netflix Instant came onto the scene and your brain pretty much exploded.
16. When you were young, you had to talk in pager code, which was its own skill, to be honest. Then, you graduated to texting on tricked out Nokia phones. But when you were able to get the Internet on your phone and check your email (of which you had none, because you were still a kid), you were like, POWER I HAVE POWER IN A HANDHELD.
17. You’ve gone from waiting ten minutes for dial-up to load on your old-ass HP desktop that you could only use in one room of your house to being irate if you lose service or WiFi while being absolutely fucking anywhere in the world. (We are dumb for this, but we still do it.)
18. You have literally grown up with the selfie, from MySpace angles that were angular because you couldn’t see your face in the camera to the invention of front-facing cameras which still pretty much blows your mind, considering you still remember when you had to buy a disposable camera in order to document a night out.
19. You have completely matured when it comes to email addresses. From x0_baby_GuRL_69@aol.com to email@example.com, your professionalism and grown-up-ness is entirely reflected and documented by the various email addresses you’ve grown out of and into.
20. You distinctly remember watching the MTV Top 20 countdown just to hear your favorite song (Aaliyah4lyfe) and the day you found Napster was seriously the best day of your life. It’s actually hard for you to imagine a time when you could not listen to any song at any time of the day you want, but the struggle to hear the song that was in your head for days was so real, because your parents were not always down to take you to Tower Records to buy the new single from Boyz II Men. That shit was all on you to wait around to watch the top 20 countdown that was actually the longest countdown ever. Praise be to the Internet, if only because you no longer have to sludge through five hours of bad music videos just to peep the song you’d been wanting to hear all week.