I Don't Know What Dial-up Internet Is
and at this point I'm too afraid to ask
Before you judge me too harshly, you have to understand a few things.
One, I was born in the Year of Our Lord 1996. I am not properly a nineties kid in any real sense of the term. My earliest understanding of “the internet” was that it was the place where you watched Homestar Runner. My older brother would log on to our sole family desktop computer once a week or so, and then I would watch Strong Bad answer emails over his shoulder for however long it took to watch all the new ones. And then he would log out, and we would go whap each other with sticks for a while in the backyard, and that was my entire childhood understanding of the internet until World of Warcraft came out in 2004.
Two, every time I try to ask someone older than me to explain dial-up internet, they are ASTONISHED. They are AGHAST. They think I’m joking. When they realize I’m not joking, they launch into a Homeric lament about the passage of time, and they usually crumble away to dust by the end, on account of how they are apparently SO OLD.
Three, there’s a lot of stuff that I don’t understand. Dial-up’s not special. Telephones, time dilation, WiFi - when someone tries to explain them to me in any kind of detail, I’m like, “sounds fake, but okay”. I know what they are in like the broadest possible sense, but I don’t know how they are, you know? I no longer subscribe to the “I like history and literature, therefore I cannot be interested in math and science” way of looking at the world - such ways are misogynist and self-defeating - so it’s not that I don’t think I’m capable of understanding, or that I take pride in not understanding. It’s just that there are a LOT of things to understand about the world. And if I dedicate precious brain space to understanding how relativity works, how am I supposed to remember other crucial details about the universe, like the entire soundtrack to the Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper?
Look, in all honesty, after the last year and a half, it takes a lot of effort these days for me to even do the things I genuinely know how to do. There's a very limited budget left over for social performance of any kind, and I’m saving that for important, life-giving activities, like responding to emails. “Pretending to know about stuff” is just going to have to get cut from the budget.