Andrew Sullivan asks, “When did you lose your Internet cherry?” My story:
I was the first of my friends to purchase a PC, a massive Compaq that set me back nearly $2,000. I was freelancing at the time, typing stories on a word processor, which I would save to a floppy disc then drive to whatever publication was paying, where they would upload it. Not very efficient.
The ‘net was a virtual clean slate back then, a godsend for budding entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, I lack the money-making gene. I am, however, quite skilled at making mischief out of nothing.
The social networks back then were Prodigy, CompuServe and AOL. Soon I discovered the M4M chat rooms, fertile ground for a troublemaker.
I created a schizophrenic profile in the guise of one of the many voices in my head, disgraced six-time local Emmy Award weatherman Levon Dukes, 62: 39, Sunday school teacher, aggressive top, six-pack abs, Boy Scout leader, bear, bourbon drinker, etc.
Screen name MrDukes would enter a gay room with guns blazing, admonishing chatters for their “degenerate lifestyles” while IM’ing crude come-ons. I had an accomplice, Levon’s nephew Tiny, who would “accidentally” stumble into the lobby: “Mr. Dukes, is that you?” MrDukes would then rip into Tiny with a torrent of merciless, unprovoked insults. On cue, the rest of the room would rush to Tiny’s defense, blowing the whistle on Mr. Dukes’ closet-bound hypocrisy.
I miss chat room takeover.