An important thing to remember is that up until only a few years ago, the internet was like a sea of tiny, isolated islands. The biggest social outlets were forums, each with its own status quo, and the biggest, most visible ones were most often run by ambivalent moderators who…
Isolated little pockets?
I am not entirely sure what of the old days were “Isolated Pockets” in comparison to the pockets of today’s internet, But I do know there was an open and unmoderated community that /everyone/ had (And still has) access to.
Let me take you back to 1989.
HOLY SHIT Look at those 256 color VGA graphics! That was a bit deal! This bogged down the dinky 300 baud modem people had. To be fair, I could /type/ faster then the non-duplex 300baud modem could send in some cases.
It took a small age to connect, and that connection wasn’t too stable. Problems aside though, it was rather worth it. See, in the early ninties, The closest we had to an understanding of mental issues that we have today is “Your kid is hyper, have some ritilan.” Otherwise you were just /the weird kid./ Not into playing all those social ladder games at school? You’re the weird kid. What, you’d rather play nintendo then football? You’re the weird kid. You think science is cool? You’re the weird kid. You like to pretend you’re a cow in a fantasy land? You’re the weird kid. You play with Lego/Dolls, despite your vagina/penis? You’re the weird kid.
Being the Weird Kid meant that people picked on you. That’s a given, you all knew that of course. But it also meant that you were /wrong/. In the eyes of the popular people, of neurotypical people, of the beautiful people, you were ugly on the inside. The term used popularly today is that you were Problematic.
But hearing that dinky PC Speaker belt out the celebratory boops for a successful connection was indeed, cause to celebrate. Because now, I, and we, were not utterly alone.
This is beautiful. This is USENET. A system of distributed messaging that worked well under even distressed internet conditions. Like reddit or 4chan is today, USENET was broken up into categories and subcategories. Do you like food? alt.food.cooking. Are you into pokemon? alt.games.nintendo.pokemon. Do you like cartoon animals? alt.fan.furry. There was even a place for sociopaths like /b/ was- alt.tasteless.
And although everyone bunched up into their isolated groups, much like the internet of today, there were social USENET boards, and of course, Most BBS services had some version of Internet Relay Chat. Most importaintly, Folks as “The Weird Kid” did not need to feel utterly isolated, alone. The Weird Kid did not need to feel like there was something fundamentally flawed about himself, because here finally was proof that there were others at least similar to him.
The point I want to make, aside from “I’m old.” is thus:
The callout culture that has developed today is not a result of tribes forming Babylon. The internet was always Babylon. A hefty toll was required to access Babylon. You needed to be smart enough to use a computer, to get through and configure things on DOS or linux. You had to be good with computers, and being a nerd or geeky was NOT a good thing. There was no Google, so the knowledge needed to understand that this even EXISTED was obscure at best.
No… The callout culture of today has it’s seeds in 1993.
The Price of Babylon has steadily been dropping since. The hardware to get to babylon is cheaper and cheaper. The knowledge required has become both less and easier to acquire. At least before 2007, there was the price of unpopularity, but the powers that be got it into their head that “Nerds were cool and trendy.”
For many of you reading this, there IS NO PRICE for getting on the internet. It’s an integrated part of your life, Researching information is so easy, there’s no need to retain any knowledge so long as you’ve got a phone. Everything and everyone is online. And that includes neurotypical people, the popular people, the beautiful people. They are all online.