A 90s glossary: Internet lingo edition
Ting takes a look back at some fun Internet lingo that proves the web surfers of the 90s were really in a league of their own.
People just don’t talk like they used to. Back in the 90s, the Internet was taking the world by storm. Well actually, it was starting off more as a light drizzle. You see, people were slower to adapt to new technologies then and the types of internet connections were limited. Not everyone could afford a computer in their home, much less in the palm of their hand.
While people were getting accustomed to the online world, they were also developing a new language to help navigate around it. Here’s a list of things people used to say online when they were just figuring things out and finding themselves - before Google search made that all too easy.
WWW or dubdubdub
People used to actually call the Internet the “World Wide Web” (did you know that’s what “www” stood for?) or dubdubdub for short. Dubdubdub wasn’t much shorter really but it was definitely the cooler, slightly less nerdy thing to say. Back in the day, people used to type out “www” before the website name because back in then people had time to waste. They knew those pages were going to take ages to load and they exercised patience. Remember these are the same people who used dial up and not a single one of them was expected to be on time for a dreaded Zoom call.
Did people actually say this? Yes, yes, they did. This was around the same time Gwen Stefani was walking in a spiderweb, screening phone calls and never calling back (wow, people were already avoiding phone calls in the 90s, go figure). As always, the moment something new comes out, people look to rename it and make it their own and the Internet is no different. If you come across this term, you’re required to give a polite smile of appreciation to your innovative and pioneering elders, it wasn’t easy to make the Internet sound cute and they did their best.
Surfing the net
Surfing the web was an actual thing, but no one likely knew what it meant because it was super, like metaphorical, man. It basically meant you were going online to look at things. Surfs up, dude, time to hit the Green Room.
If you weren’t caught in the web or surfing the net, you may have been trucking along on that sweet information superhighway, just a guy on the open road, looking for answers. This term is serving some new-age realness and it might be time to hit the road and bring it back.
People on the Internet
Before apps like Tinder, Instagram and Facebook, people communicated with strangers in chat rooms. They had handles but no profile pics or avatars. They had to… ask each other actual questions. Human beings, impatient by nature, would type “ASL” (denoting age, sex and location) to find out who they were chatting with. Not sure what the point was since there was no way to prove the answers, but maybe people were more honest back then?
Teenagers used to stay up all night on their home computer using ICQ (I seek you! Get it!?) to chat with friends, gossip, flirt and send each other very beautiful, self-made emoticons and love tokens (look, a @}--,--’-- rose just for you, dear reader). While the platform has changed, it’s comforting to know that human behavior really hasn’t. If anything, we now use three platforms, if not four or five, to get in touch with people at literally any time of day. Acronyms like LOL, ILY and BRB were created then and have remained to this day, amazingly enough. Wait, ROFLcopter anyone? Points to you if you know what that is, you're a real one and we respect that around here.
The 90s may have been full of wannabe pop stars and super fly guys but hackers were the alternative scene’s answer to cool. Watch Hackers to get a taste of skateboarding villains and a true sense of 90s hacker worship. Everyone wanted to be a hacker or what-EVER but very few of them actually hax0red. The harsh reality is, most of them were just really good at Minesweeper and Solitaire.
Before streaming movies and music was broadly available, people found ways to get movies, music games and software online through, uhh, less legitimate means. Sites like The Pirate Bay and others made piracy easier than legitimacy, which is a pretty big problem if you’re selling music, movies, software and games. Now, the simplicity of streaming services, online rentals and legit digital downloads make piracy less attractive so pirates—and their bays—are rendered less useful. Nowadays, those guys are likely just surfing the net with the rest of us.
That's, like, so yesterday
What other Internet lingo words or terms have fallen out of use? Let us know in the comments so we can add it to our list!