What Do You Miss About the Way the Internet Used to Be? Here’s What People Said.

My experience with the OLD internet was mostly just annoying my sister by tying up the phone line so I could slowly download bad-quality mp3s.

Those were the good old days!

But a lot has changed since then. Let’s see what Reddit misses:

1. The nerdiness

A real high presence of programming stuff, STEM stuff etcetera.

Also no one really had a clue what anyone what was doing which was really nice.

Now it is a machine that is being used to get more customers etcetera.

It was a weird place.

– b2q

2. Its lower prominence

How it used to just be a part of life, and now it is life. Smartphones were probably the driving force here.

When I was younger I had to wait until I was home to get online, now it’s always in my palm, I use it to manage almost every aspect of life, and my attention span is fried.

– pmvegetables

3. Runescape

I know you can still get on and play but it doesn’t feel the same anymore.

Maybe that’s more of a “youth and nostalgia” thing than an Internet itself thing, though.

– pmvegetables

4. Geocities sites

In the late 90s, there used to be these awesome fan sites for basically any kind of media you could think of. Comic book characters, celebs, TV shows, you name it, all created by mega-fans who would collect and curate fan fiction, fan art, quotes, poems, jokes, pictures, etc.

They were real labors of love and often had awesome content.

– transemacabre

5. Better friendships

You could be friends with people online, without your irl family & friends demanding you friend them.

Aunt Dolores wasn’t on Usenet, geocities, and MySpace.

Now it’s Steam, Twitter, Insta, … everyone is everywhere and they demand your interaction as their own gamified self worth.

– ikonet

6. Comedy gold

Just like random, high-concept comedy sites that you’d run across because people weren’t wasting all their jokes on twitter. Things that were impossibly funny at the time but long gone now.

“Once it’s on the internet it’s there forever” ….except for basically every website I used to read back in college.

– weskeryellsCHRISSS

7. The better landscape

When it wasn’t basically a corporate hellscape with an endless barrage of advertisements and relentless format copying. My company is making a product based solely on a tik tok trend. What’s cutting edge and boundary pushing about a supplement based on questionable science and even more dubious marketing research of “it’s trending, let’s see if it sticks”?

I miss when it was wild and amateur. People got famous, but it was from outrageous stuff that no one had thought of before.

– didyouseeben

8. The early days

As someone who’s been online since 1991, I remember the early days.

I miss the Internet that was dominated by tech-savvy geeks and nerds, and message boards that required effort to join and were moderated, as opposed to free-for-all social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter.

Social media brought a buttload of idiots and a**holes onto the Internet. Sure, we had people like that before social media, but it wasn’t the norm (probably because it wasn’t generally tolerated on moderated message boards and getting online was too difficult/complicated for the average person).

One thing I definitely DON’T miss is paying huge fees per hour.

– [deleted user]

9. The information age

When niche communities became mainstream so did extremist bubbles. Those bubbles became echo chambers for willful ignorance, confirmation bias, and unveiled hatred.

The information age was the ability for anyone to learn about anything. It may have been anarchic in the way information could be collected, but today it’s entirely possible to avoid ever seeing conflicting information.

All of this so companies like Facebook and Google can monetize their operations.

– UseOnlyLurk

10. Diversity

You could go through many pages where there were some micro-communities.

No everybody stays on 10 top pages and custom made sites are made only for business. That sucks.

– Always_Jerking

11. Before it was cool

For better or worse, the culture was niche and hadn’t yet hit the mainstream.

Made everything feel so much more genuine and special.

– GoldAvril

12. The mystery of it all

The fact that it still felt like some kind of mystery we had to figure out, there was always another website or something that you didn’t know about, you could just kind of find new stuff every day and it felt like you were discovering something, it felt like a process of exploration!

Now everything’s kind of focused on the same couple of platforms

– KokoTheBanana

13. The smaller YouTube community

Remember the time when yt had the 5 star rating system?

Also there weren’t a lot of youtubers that brought content on a regular base.

Instead there were a handful of videos everyone knew about.

– Nimetski

14. No social media

Yea social media is probably the internet invention that hurt society the most at a large scale…

Of course social media helped making noise for some big problems of today, but real-life interaction was pretty much killed by social media, at least here in Germany.

– Nimetski

15. The grittiness

It feels very sanitised and clean. Like, there’s no mystery to it.

Old internet felt a bit wild west, like a massive campfire story. Now it’s ads and capitalism.

Not sure I’m getting my point across but yeah.

– CG1991

16. The simplicity of it

There’s so much about the early internet that I miss, but can’t quite put my finger on.

It totally boils down to this – the look and feel of it was simpler.

It existed for the sake of existing. People were just trying s**t out. It was like going through a sketchbook.

– RedWestern

17. Web Rings

You’d find a site you liked, and sometimes at the bottom of the page there would be a link for the web ring. It would take you to a similar site that was usually independently operated. Think Geocities fan sites and the like. This was important, because search engines weren’t nearly as powerful back in the day, and some of the best sites weren’t necessarily ones that would pop up on a search results page.

Thus, web rings. I don’t know that a web ring ITSELF is what I’m missing; I guess it was always sort of a crapshoot, but you’d sometimes find really cool hobby pages and fan pages that way and you wouldn’t necessarily find them any other way in the mid-90s.

– kishbish

18. The Reign of Flash

All the great flash animation sites that YouTube murdered

Homestarrunner Stickdeath Joecartoon Albinoblacksheep Ebaumsworld …ect

I know a lot of us are still around but they’re just not the same or don’t put out content like they used to.

– SirFelsenAxt

19. MSN Messenger

What I miss about MSN is that you actually talked. You logged on and that meant “hey, I’m here, let’s talk.” Now we are connected 24/7, someone sends you a message, maybe you reply a few hours later, they reply tomorrow… it’s so sporadic.

Man I had some great conversations into the small hours on MSN putting the world to rights.

– pingusbeak

20. There was less hate

The internet of my twenties didn’t even include AOL and was almost entirely friendly. “Trolls” didn’t really exist back then as they do now. At most people joked about viruses that would “impregnate your sister” and told people that pressing alt+F4 would unlock a secret menu or something.

Now it seems that about half of everything posted is entirely for the purpose of hurting others.

It’s so sad to see what I once thought would ‘bring all of humanity together’ (I was young, idealistic, and naive), turn into a place where you’re judged (and mistreated) according to all the things that don’t matter anyway and are likely beyond your control

– honoredtwig

21. The commitment

Oddly enough, the one thing I miss the most was making the pages you picked to visit count as it was a commitment to load them.

– matt95110

22. Healthier skepticism

People knowing that the average website was full of crap.

I remember hearing my parents say don’t believe everything you see on the web and now they believe everything they see on the web.

– Moderate_Veterain

23. P2P file sharing

You could never trust song labels, every single parody song was suddenly Weird Al and it would suck when you thought you found a new or obscure song by a band you loved and it was actually a song you already knew by them or sometimes a song by a different band all together.

That movie that you wanted to download, which was always in several huge parts that would take hours to days to download, ends up being p**n you didn’t want. That p**n that your really wanted, ends up being a beheading video.

It was so chaotic and random and full of viruses that would f**k your computer too. Those were crazy days and you never really knew what to expect, was like the wild west.

– -eDgAR-

24. People having their own websites

now instead of “go check out my awesome homepage that i designed!” its just “plz check out my instagram where i sometimes post pictures of myself or my cat”

– worldsinfinite

25. Computer labs

The whole computer lab playing flash games and being introduced to new ones. They were so basic but the perfect respite from the harsh reality that was middle school.

Favorite game: Yeti toss

– kywiking

26. Finding reviews

I can’t google a product review without the review site also selling the product they are reviewing.

I feel like it’s so hard anymore to find unbiased reviews.

– MythicalBearNole

27. Exploration

The fun of simply exploring. My friends and I in high school would just type in random words to see what the internet might have in store. Was kind of exciting.

– nohumanape

28. AIM

I have so many great memories staying up late chatting with my friends on that.

I remember how fun it was changing up your profile and trying to come up with cool, clever away messages.

– -eDgAR-

29. More friendliness

That is used to be so much more friendly. Yeah you had some trolls, but for the most part people were actively inclusive on forums.

Now it feels like everyone is always at each others throats over the smallest things.

– laddiemawery

30. Surprise!

BonziBuddy and Alienware PC pop-up ads giving you a split second panic attack because you thought you just got yourself some kind of computer virus

– SdVeau

Those were the good old days…all those centuries ago…

What do you miss most about the old internet?

Tell us in the comments.