The internet we grew up with is entirely different from what children are experiencing today. I'm not saying today's internet is bad! You can always find me creeping on Facebook, ranting on Twitter or posting on Instagram. Connections between two people were different ,but simple back then. Myspace and AIM kept friends up to date with one another before texting was so popular. Before people used an mp3 converter online, Limewire was our main source of music, while Webkinz and Club Penguin kept our simple minds entertained for nights on end.
Myspace, no matter what you'll always recognize "Tom's" picture on the Internet. He never changed it and still uses it on Facebook today! MySpace was something all the "cool" kids had. It was a constant job to make sure your profile stayed high end and up to date with everything. This included the latest widgets and glitter gifs, and maybe some flashy effects like falling stars on your page. The profile song had to be perfect and something everyone was listening to, plus a rockin' overly detailed bio. Not only that but top friends probably started a fight or two as well. One false move and someone could go a week without talking to their best friend. You spent hours agonizing over your profile picture because it had to be perfect. The famous "hold-the-camera-above-my-head-with-a-peace-sign" or "selfie-in-a-dirty-mirror" were well known "selfie" poses. The only comments on those photos would be "pc4pc", or "like4like".
While perfecting your Myspace was intense, your obsession with AIM was just as bad. The little yellow running character is one we won't soon forget, and neither are the awful usernames like xXCupCakeQueenXx. Before texting was super popular this was the main form of communication. Everyday after school you'd rush home and log online. Remember those cute icons with the flashing letters of song lyrics? People were known by their icons and right along side of that was the buddy info. You either filled it with all the information in the world or kept it very simple. Fonts were popular but hard to choose, but nothing was more agonizing than making sure your away status was cuter than everyone else's. Buddy lists were usually family, friends, best friends, enemies, and, of course, your crush. We waited and listened for the doors opening and closing constantly to see who got on and who got off. Between perfecting MySpace and chatting on AIM, illegally downloading music on LimeWire became an ultimate art.
LimeWire was the go-to for illegal music to download onto your iPod nano or MP3 player. There was always a sense of adventure using this program since it was flat out illegal. The anxiety of getting caught by the government was never too far away but the music was always calling you to it. It was a Russian Roulette game when selecting a file to download. Was it a song? Was it a fake file? Was it porn? Was it a virus? Was Bill Clinton going to talk? Was it a terrible remix? Nobody knew for sure! But it was all worth it when you FINALLY found the one song you were looking for.
Those downloads could take seconds or hours but while we waited there were too very popular games everyone played. Webkinz and Club Penguin. Those bring back piles of memories from recess and after school fun.
Webkinz was pretty popular for us girls. We would spend $13.99 on a stuffed animal just for a code to add to your account, sad right? The most exciting moment besides that was the special furniture you received with your pet and the money. It was always hard to get Kinzcash in the game. The only good game to get money on was Cash Cow. One thing to look forward to was the Curio shop. Everyone wanted to collect every gem and get that crown. Sometimes the gem hunt wouldn't go so well and you'd end up with the dreaded slag, but nothing was more antagonizing than the Wheel of Wow. Was the prize 500 Kinzcash? Was it furniture? Were you going to get the gross Orange Gak? Very rarely did anyone receive the furniture or the cash, but when you did there was problem with buying/ adding it to your rooms theme. There were many room themes that were loved, but all so expensive.
At the same time Webkinz swept the nation, so did Club Penguin. I'm talking about the old Club Penguin before Disney took over. The hardest choice we had to make was picking our penguin's color while signing up. Puffles, backgrounds, and pins were one of the only things non-members could purchase. Membership was everything. Members had access to clothing, houses, and furniture! While non-members had to wait specifically for holidays and events just to get a single free article of clothing. Events were everything to non-members. The whole map of Club Penguin changes for two weeks with special pins to find, special backgrounds and free clothing! It was always exciting to find secret passages to rooms that weren't on the map, traveling to the iceberg trying to "tip" it, or having snowball fights at the forts. If you weren't traveling you were playing the few games they had to offer like Mancala, racing down the ski slopes, and Connect Four!
Club Penguin, Webkinz, MySpace, Aim and LimeWire made our childhood unique and unforgettable. They bring back wonderful (and sometimes embarrassing ) memories of our youth that we cherish and grow from. So go log into your old accounts, laugh at your old myspace pictures, cringe at your AIM handle, and play some Club Penguin games because sometimes nothing is better than re-living a little piece of your childhood.