I had my introduction to the World Wide Web (WWW) somewhere, I think, in late 1994 or early 1995.
I was living in Calgary, AB at the time and one of my friends was dog sitting for friends of hers. They had Internet access and told her she could go online while she was staying there. They gave her some instructions (how to dial up, for example) and told her if she ran into any trouble, she could just call the brother of one of the friends. Easy peasy, right? Uh huh.
Before I go any further, I should say that I know that the WWW and the Internet aren’t the same thing. At the time, though, it was all the same to me. Those were the days of Netscape Navigator and MetaCrawler. Ahhhh the memories! In any event, my first Internet experience was also my first WWW experience.
She was staying there for a week or two and was allowed to have friends over and we were pretty excited to check out this Internet thing. The first time I was over, we thought we’d give it a go. We were pretty excited – we had no idea what this thing was, but it sounded pretty cool. Looking stuff up without books or paper? WHAAAAAAAAT?!?!
We were big movie buffs so the first thing we searched for, after the beeeeep-boooopedy-beeeeeeeeep of dial-up got us online, was movies. Specifically, because we were in our mid-twenties and single, I think we included “hot men” in the search field.
Well, if you weren’t online much “back in the day”, you may not be aware that there was very little by way of search filters. You REALLY had to be careful what you searched for because anything and everything pretty much brought up porn sites. (There’s a little bit of foreshadowing there, in case you didn’t catch it… 😉 )
In retrospect, we probably shouldn’t have searched for movies with hot men. Nowadays, you could search for “movies with hot men” and you’ll get regular movies. In 1994/1995…not so much. But we didn’t know. WE DIDN’T KNOW!!!!
All of a sudden we found ourselves on this page with this naked man behind a chain link fence, some sort of sign or something strategically placed over his “we weren’t looking for this” bits.
We went through a few quick reactionary stages. We were surprised, shocked (really, we had no clue) and then we cracked up laughing. It wasn’t what we were looking for (we were in a Hugh Grant/Four Weddings and a Funeral phase) so yeah…porn wasn’t what we were looking for and we found it hilarious.
But the people who lived there had kids so, before we did anything else, we wanted to make sure that the page we landed on was deleted. We hit the back button, thinking that would do the trick. Then we hit the forward button to make sure the porn page was gone.
You know how the forward button works, so you aren’t surprised when I say that the page was still there. The nekked man was still behind the fence. Eek!!!! We didn’t want their kids to accidentally stumble onto that page. For that matter, we didn’t want her friends to think we hopped online to scour for porn. (Mind you…”scouring” requires wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy more effort than porn searches require online, especially back then…)
We tried the back and forth thing a few times and even closed the window and opened it again. No matter what we did, the nekked man was still there.
We talked about calling the brother, but we didn’t want him to think we were porn dogs, either. My friend didn’t even know him. “Um…hi…I’m dog sitting for your brother [or was it sister?] and I…um…accidentally ended up on a porn site and don’t know how to get rid of it before they come home.” We could only imagine his reaction.
So yeahhhhhhh…we didn’t jump at that option. We tried all the things we had already tried several more times. Needless to say, they never worked. Ultimately, the fear of the kids landing on that page outweighed the feeling of stupidity and, with much trepidation, we made the call.
The brother, who worked in IT, reacted pretty much how we expected. He laughed. A LOT. And loudly. But he helped us.
After that, we refused to try again. We walked a wide berth around it. It just wasn’t worth it.
In the fall of 1995 I went back to university to get my education degree and I was “properly” introduced to the Internet. I was taught how to use it and to be careful of the dangers of porn showing up in your searches. By the time I started teaching, I had a clue. Finally…I had a clue. 😉
And the rest is history!!!