Sitting on an old couch, my friend next to me. Wireless keyboard in my lap. We’re both watching his TV. I type in the address of my new GeoCities site (someone gave me, of all people, a website! For free!) and I start to panic. Is this thing I made actually good?
It lived in “Area 51.” It was a site about Discordianism, a bizarre 70’s joke/cult/???. I had discovered it (where else?) on the internet, while reading about abandoned nuclear missile silos, the Bavarian Illuminati, and JFK conspiracy theories. I spent my middle school nights and weekends watching The X-Files and surfing the weird, wild web on a computer that took up most of our home-office desk.
At my friend’s house, though, it was all about the TV. His family didn’t have a computer. They had what seemed like the future: “WebTV,” a subscription set-top box that turned your TV into a web browser. It was slow, navigating by keyboard sucked, it didn’t render pages all that well. But I knew it would get better. Someday, everyone would be using the web on their TVs. I was naive.
I hit enter. The page loaded. The background, that bright-but-not-too-bright green that I spent hours agonizing over? On the TV, it looked like puke.