Cyber Monday – Then and Now

What a typical “Cyber Monday” used to be:

Going on AOL chat to flirt with some girl whom you have no idea what she looks like and basing her attractiveness entirely on the cuteness of her screen name and/or a single, low resolution webcam pic (which may or may not actually be of her.)

[Yes, if you think the risk of catfishing is high now, just imagine that there was a time in the 1990’s when almost nobody on the internet had photos of themselves, and all you had to go by was the person’s written description of their own appearance (“People tell me I look like Sandra Bullock…”) and the equivalent of name, rank and serial number in the form of an a/s/l.]

Phase II is when you exchange phone numbers and begin to talk on the phone for a while after one of you works up the nerve to call. This can result in brief awkward conversations which end abruptly. Alternately, this period can last for several weeks, sometimes even months or years and feature lengthy, deep, personal, romantic and occasionally sexually explicit discussions about life, love, and the cosmos.

The third phase is the high stakes moment of truth when you agree to meet up in a high profile public place, such as a Walmart parking lot, a Denny’s or the patio of a Baskin Robbins/Dunkin’ Donuts dual function establishment. As you eagerly but tepidly pull up to the location, if you suspect you notice the person and they have a blob-like appearance or are otherwise much less attractive than you expected, you pretend not to recognize or know them and immediately drive away…never to speak to them again. If on the other hand, the person is at least okay looking and semi-bangable, you approach nervously, suddenly wondering whether your physical appearance is going to live up to their expectations or appear disappointingly goblinesque to them (“hey I thought this guy said he had frosted tips and looked like an Abercrombie model.”)

If the stars are aligned and both of you aren’t physically disgusted by the sight of each other, then “Cyber Monday” can culminate in a hot and heavy make-out or dry humping session…once sufficient trust has been established to relocate the rendezvous to a more intimate place, like her/your parents’ bedroom since they’re conveniently out of town (assuming you’re both 100% consenting adults that just so happen to lead directionless lives and still at home.) In those days, every dad online had the potential to be Cyber Monday. Like a trip to Zombocom, a log in to a flooded Foxy Chat meant anything was possible. The net was the limit! …but that was 1997, and we didn’t yet realize how good we had it. Well, maybe some of us did, but the pre-9/11, flirtatious screen name play,¬†Geocities homepage and auto-playing midi age of web romance was fleeting nonetheless.

What Cyber Monday is now:

People buying consumer products online at heavily discounted prices for one day out of the year (though occasionally these sales are extended for multiple days.)

Brandon Adamson is the author of Skytrain to Nowhere