While doing a spotlight search for an old friend’s name on my Mac, I stumbled on my email archive from 1997, when I was in college. It was pretty easy to then skim through a year of email because a) I had real work to procrastinate, and b) there were hardly any emails. Things I learned from looking through everything:
Many of us called emails “letters.” Like “thanks for the fast response to my last letter.” I have no memory of ever calling it anything besides email, but apparently people just called them “letters,” at some point in time. How weird is that?
So many forwarded emails. I sent them, and received them. There was no Facebook or Twitter or YouTube, so this was how people shared funny stories about cats.
#3: Six People
I had six people that I emailed with regularly, and they were super long emails. Life updates. Logistics. They were mostly things that happen on Facebook and via text now. Thinking about the shift in communication channels from then to now is absolutely fascinating. There was no spam. You could almost organize emails by type of communication and just paste them up on a board with stickies and start pulling them out of email into other channels. If that trend is still happening, then we can look forward to more channels (SLACK ANYONE) and less length in emails. Here were the six people I emailed with:
- My mom
- My dad
- My friend Chris from high school (still friends)
- A girl Megan I was dating (didn’t last)
- My friend Yasmin from high school (still friends)
- My friend Zach (mortal enemies)
Apparently a lot of us used ICQ back then. My ICQ # was 22121173
Tons of people that I really didn’t know very well signed their emails with “love.” And I did, too. Like everyone I emailed with from college loved each other? I mean like random acquaintances — we all signed off “love.” That is reallllllly missing from most texts and Facebook and Instagram posts with people you don’t know that well these days. What a personal touch. Maybe it was just college, or my network, so could be random, or maybe there was more love in the world of email in 1997.
I was an insufferable 20yr old. Offensive. Misguided. Self-centered. But also pretty funny. And ballsy. Which is of course exactly how I am now. Except all my 20yr old friends and I used insanely offensive language that I would never use now. Like really really offensive. *Shudders*
Expedia.com was totally a thing, and I got email from them, in terms of content, that is pretty much exactly the same as now.