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Pop Culture

9 of the craziest internet trends that are long forgotten

RIP, custom cursors.

2000s internet trends, early internet trends, ask reddit

Somewhere out there, a Neopet is still hungry.

As an elder millennial, I remember when the internet was completely uncharted territory. So many new things to discover and try out, with seemingly zero rules. The World Wide Web truly was the Wild Wild West, and we were its brave internet explorers.

With the ferocious speed at which information travels through social media today, we’ve become accustomed to internet trends simply coming and going. So much so that we’ve probably forgotten a few gems that were once considered the “it” thing.

Remember the unparalleled joys of making your Neopet happy? Or the instant self-esteem boost you’d get upon seeing that website hit counter go up on the bottom corner of your virtual masterpiece? (Remember, we didn’t have “likes” to lean on during this dark period.) These are just a few relics of a not-so-distant past—once cherished, but now buried in antiquity.

One Reddit user recently asked: “What’s something the internet was crazy about but is now forgotten?” and people’s answers were a wild nostalgia ride. Use this list for a stroll down memory lane, or to confound a Gen Z friend. Either way, it’s a bit of idle fun—something the internet will always be a good source for.

Without further ado, here are 9 of the weirdest internet trends no one remembers:


1. Downloading custom cursor effects for your computer

via GIPHY

Ah yes, who wants to see a boring arrow move around their screen when they can pretend to wave fairy dust around? Or rainbows, or snowflakes, or bubbles, for that matter. There really was something magically cathartic about animated cursors. Sure they were riddled with bugs, but sometimes that’s the price you pay for a little whimsy, right?

“I gave my family computer so many viruses back in the '00s trying to click things with a lightsaber.” –@TW1103

2. Pre-Google search engines

before google, alternative search engines

One engine to search them all....

Giphy

Wow, hard to imagine a time when googling wasn’t an actual word. Believe it or not, kids, it used to be anything goes when looking up obscure movie trivia or long lost recipes.

Each search engine site had its own personality—Alta Vista chose a no frills approach, Dogpile offered a (never funny) joke of the day, and Ask Jeeves featured a savvy valet based on a character in a novel series by P.G. Wodehouse, ready to quench all curiosities that came in the form of a question.

Many of these separate quirks were quite revolutionary and, though eventually swallowed up by Google’s widespread success, have clearly inspired much of its overall format. Sure, other search engines do still exist, but I think we can all agree that Google reigns supreme.

3. AOL Instant Messenger (AIM)

via GIPHY

Hulu’s “PEN15,” which centers around two middle schoolers in the early 2000s, nailed everything about AOL chat rooms with accuracy—from the cringeworthy screen names, to the melodramatic away messages, to the obnoxious login sound that had a Pavlovian effect on teens, bringing their eyes involuntarily to the screen. It’s pure gold.

Of course, there are some aspects of AIM that might be best forgotten—primarily the dangerous way in which teenagers were easily exploited.

“I was 14 but playing a 17 year old because 17 was very “grown up” to me, but I didn’t feel it was enough of an age gap for the lie to be exposed.” –@KayleighJK

"I was 13 pretending I was 18 on AOL chat rooms. I was exposed to too much at a young age. Imagine if I said my actual age" –@Chickeneggsandlegs

4. Flash games

early internet games

Got Flash?

Giphy

Flash games—often free, super easy to play, and normally only required Adobe Flash. According to Comic Book Resources (CBR), one flash game in particular called “Club Penguin” was so well loved that when it shut down in 2017, “thousands of players logged on for the game's final moments, doing everything they could do in game before it was gone forever.”

5. Smart guestbooks

early internet trends

This was a nice one, for sure.

Giphy

Pretty straightforward, and a pretty sweet way to connect with people around the world. Visitors from all over could digitally “sign” and leave a personal message, usually things like “Hi I’m so-and-so and I really enjoyed your website, was a pleasure to browse.” See now nice that was? Not exactly like the aggressive Yelp reviews we’ve become accustomed to.

6. GeoCities

geocities

So few pixels, so little time.

Giphy

Into science fiction and fantasy? Head on over to “Area51.” More of a sports fan? Click on “Colosseum.” GeoCities offered virtual neighborhoods based on specific interests, all on sites filled with flashy graphics and some hot new thing called GIFs. This was a time when enthusiasm for the internet as a community-building and self-expression space was at an all-time high, even if looking back the execution was a tad rudimentary.

Though the days of GeoCities are gone, some remnants of its glory remain, like this.

7. Webrings

retro internet

In the B.A. (Before Algorithm) era.

Giphy

As MIC contributor Brittany Vincent so astutely put it, “Webrings are a forgotten antiquity of the past, a solution created to resolve a problem that no longer exists.” Back when websites were both expensive and limited—not to mention search engines hadn’t hit their stride—having a little box on the bottom of a site you were already on, one that revealed even more magical places you could visit based on the site you were currently on … well, that was the ultimate luxury.

“Oh man, if you stumbled upon* a web ring that you were interested in it was like gold. Bookmark! Not to be confused with StumbleUpon, that was later and also magical.” –DanAykroydFanClub

Which brings us to…

8. StumbleUpon

ask reddit

Who knows where you'll stumble?

Giphy

Back in the day, the internet wasn’t such an all-knowing entity feeding off of algorithms. Endless exploring through obscurity was part of the fun. No better example of this exists than StumbleUpon, where visitors would click a button and land somewhere else at complete random. It was a game of internet roulette. And it was thrilling.

9. Poking on Facebook

early internet trends

Hey...still here...

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Sometimes, internet imitates life. This was the case with Facebook’s “poke” feature, where users could click a button to remind another user of their existence. Was it rather pointless? Yes. Was it intrusive? Also yes. Regardless, it was all the rage.

Like many of Facebook's features, “pokes” could disappear in the barrage of notifications, which could result in less than ideal realizations.

“I had a friend that poked me and I never noticed the notification. He died. I now have this unreturned poke as a reminder that I’ll never be able to poke them back.” –@Klaus0225

internet trends

It's web surfin' time!

Giphy

Sure, today’s technology is faster, more efficient and far reaching, but we’ll always have a spot in our hearts for the early internet’s wonky charm. Sort of like those old yearbook photos…

Pop Culture

Airbnb host finds unexpected benefits from not charging guests a cleaning fee

Host Rachel Boice went for a more "honest" approach with her listings—and saw major perks because of it.

@rachelrboice/TikTok

Many frustrated Airbnb customers have complained that the separate cleaning fee is a nuisance.

Airbnb defines its notorious cleaning fee as a “one-time charge” set by the host that helps them arrange anything from carpet shampoo to replenishing supplies to hiring an outside cleaning service—all in the name of ensuring guests have a “clean and tidy space.”

But as many frustrated Airbnb customers will tell you, this feature is viewed as more of a nuisance than a convenience. According to NerdWallet, the general price for a cleaning fee is around $75, but can vary greatly between listings, with some units having cleaning fees that are higher than the nightly rate (all while sometimes still being asked to do certain chores before checking out). And often none of these fees show up in the total price until right before the booking confirmation, leaving many travelers feeling confused and taken advantage of.

However, some hosts are opting to build cleaning fees into the overall price of their listings, mimicking the strategy of traditional hotels.

Rachel Boice runs two Airbnb properties in Georgia with her husband Parker—one being this fancy glass plane tiny house (seen below) that promises a perfect glamping experience.

@rachelrboice Welcome to The Tiny Glass House 🤎 #airbnbfinds #exploregeorgia #travelbucketlist #tinyhouse #glampingnotcamping #atlantageorgia #fyp ♬ Aesthetic - Tollan Kim

Like most Airbnb hosts, the Boice’s listing showed a nightly rate and separate cleaning fee. According to her interview with Insider, the original prices broke down to $89 nightly, and $40 for the cleaning fee.

But after noticing the negative response the separate fee got from potential customers, Rachel told Insider that she began charging a nightly rate that included the cleaning fee, totaling to $129 a night.

It’s a marketing strategy that more and more hosts are attempting in order to generate more bookings (people do love feeling like they’re getting a great deal) but Boice argued that the trend will also become more mainstream since the current Airbnb model “doesn’t feel honest.”

"We stay in Airbnbs a lot. I pretty much always pay a cleaning fee," Boice told Insider. "You're like: 'Why am I paying all of this money? This should just be built in for the cost.'"

Since combining costs, Rachel began noticing another unexpected perk beyond customer satisfaction: guests actually left her property cleaner than before they were charged a cleaning fee. Her hypothesis was that they assumed she would be handling the cleaning herself.

"I guess they're thinking, 'I'm not paying someone to clean this, so I'll leave it clean,'" she said.

This discovery echoes a similar anecdote given by another Airbnb host, who told NerdWallet guests who knew they were paying a cleaning fee would “sometimes leave the place looking like it’s been lived in and uncleaned for months.” So, it appears to be that being more transparent and lumping all fees into one overall price makes for a happier (and more considerate) customer.

These days, it’s hard to not be embittered by deceptive junk fees, which can seem to appear anywhere without warning—surprise overdraft charges, surcharges on credit cards, the never convenience “convenience charge” when purchasing event tickets. Junk fees are so rampant that certain measures are being taken to try to eliminate them outright in favor of more honest business approaches.

Speaking of a more honest approach—as of December 2022, AirBnb began updating its app and website so that guests can see a full price breakdown that shows a nightly rate, a cleaning fee, Airbnb service fee, discounts, and taxes before confirming their booking.

Guests can also activate a toggle function before searching for a destination, so that full prices will appear in search results—avoiding unwanted financial surprises.


This article originally appeared on 11.08.23

Representative photos by Elena Safonova and Mikhail Nilov|Canva

Man makes hilariously realistic song about medical insurance

Navigating the American healthcare system can give you a rage induced headache. Between the monthly premiums, copays, coinsurances and deductibles, it's enough to make you feel like you're going to lose it. But then there's finding a doctor that's in network that can convince the insurance company that you actually need the procedure they want to do.

Tarek Ziad, frustrated with the process of trying to schedule with an ophthalmologist took to Instagram with an original song that he sang a cappella. The song has people howling with laughter while simultaneously commiserating with the struggle of navigating referrals for specialty visits.

According to the lyrics of the song, the man was told he needed to see an ophthalmologist so he called his insurance company to see who was in his network. Ziad sings that calling his insurance company was no help because he was then told that he needed to contact his medical group. But what's a medical group? It's like peeling back an onion.


Ziad sings, "so you go online and you look at all the ophthalmologists and you call them one by one and you go through 29 ophthalmologists and every single one either doesn't answer your call or they don't actually take your medical group. They say 'we've never heard of that medical group.'"

Commenters related to his struggle trying to get into the right kind of doctor, or any doctor at all working within the American health insurance system.

"The realest thing I've seen in a phat minute," one person says.

"God the database being out of date and/or simply inaccurate is so infuriating. 'oh, no, I don't take that insurance.' or 'I used to but I stopped years ago idk why they still loist[sic] me,'" another writes.

"You’re going places. Not the ophthalmologist, but places," someone jokes.

"Step aside star spangled banner, there’s a new national anthem," a commenter jokes.

All joking aside, there were doctors in the comments expressing their frustration and sorrow around insurance companies. One commenter says it was cheaper and faster for her to fly back to Morocco to see an ophthalmologist for eye surgery than having it done the the United States. Yikes. Hopefully, Ziad can get in to see the right doctor soon. Maybe his next viral hit will be about billing.

Pop Culture

A brave fan asks Patrick Stewart a question he doesn't usually get and is given a beautiful answer

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through.

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through. However, how he answered this vulnerable and brave fan's question is one of the most eloquent, passionate responses about domestic violence I've ever seen.



WARNING: At 2:40, he's going to break your heart a little.

You can read more about Heather Skye's hug with Captain Picard at her blog.


This article originally appeared on 06.26.13.


Representative image from Canva

Because who can keep up with which laundry settings is for which item, anyway?

Once upon a time, our only option for getting clothes clean was to get out a bucket of soapy water and start scrubbing. Nowadays, we use fancy machines that not only do the labor for us, but give us free reign to choose between endless water temperature, wash duration, and spin speed combinations.

Of course, here’s where the paradox of choice comes in. Suddenly you’re second guessing whether that lace item needs to use the “delicates” cycle, or the “hand wash” one, or what exactly merits a “permanent press” cycle. And now, you’re wishing for that bygone bucket just to take away the mental rigamarole.

Well, you’re in luck. Turns out there’s only one setting you actually need. At least according to one laundry expert.

While appearing on HuffPost’s “Am I Doing It Wrong?” podcast, Patric Richardson, aka The Laundry Evangelist, said he swears by the “express” cycle, as “it’s long enough to get your clothes clean but it’s short enough not to cause any damage.”

Richardson’s reasoning is founded in research done while writing his book, “Laundry Love,” which showed that even the dirtiest items would be cleaned in the “express” cycle, aka the “quick wash” or “30 minute setting.”


Furthermore the laundry expert, who’s also the host of HGTV’s “Laundry Guy,” warned that longer wash settings only cause more wear and tear, plus use up more water and power, making express wash a much more sustainable choice.

Really, the multiple settings washing machines have more to do with people being creatures of habit, and less to do with efficiency, Richardson explained.

“All of those cycles [on the washing machine] exist because they used to exist,” he told co-hosts Raj Punjabi and Noah Michelson. “We didn’t have the technology in the fabric, in the machine, in the detergent [that we do now], and we needed those cycles. In the ’70s, you needed the ‘bulky bedding’ cycle and the ‘sanitary’ cycle ... it was a legit thing. You don’t need them anymore, but too many people want to buy a machine and they’re like, ‘My mom’s machine has “whitest whites.”’ If I could build a washing machine, it would just have one button — you’d just push it, and it’d be warm water and ‘express’ cycle and that’s it.”
washing machine

When was the last time you washed you washing machine? "Never" is a valid answer.

Canva

According to Good Housekeeping, there are some things to keep in mind if you plan to go strictly express from now on.

For one thing, the outlet recommends only filling the machine halfway and using a half dose of liquid, not powder detergent, since express cycles use less water. Second, using the setting regularly can develop a “musty” smell, due to the constant low-temperature water causing a buildup of mold or bacteria. To prevent this, running an empty wash on a hot setting, sans the detergent, is recommended every few weeks, along with regularly scrubbing the detergent drawer and door seal.

Still, even with those additional caveats, it might be worth it just to knock out multiple washes in one day. Cause let’s be honest—a day of laundry and television binging sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

To catch even more of Richardson’s tips, find the full podcast episode here.


This article originally appeared on 2.4.24

National Autistic Society/Youtube

"Diverted" educational video shared through the Too Much Information Campaign.

Everyone who lives with autism experiences it somewhat differently. You'll often hear physicians and advocates refer to the spectrum that exists for those who are autistic, pointing to a wide range of symptoms and skills.

But one thing many autistic people experience is sensory processing issues.


For autistic people, processing the world around them when it comes to sight, smell, or touch can be challenging, as their senses are often over- or under-sensitive. Certain situations — like meandering through a congested mall or enduring the nonstop blasting of police sirens — can quickly become unbearable.

This reality is brought to life in a new video by the U.K.'s National Autistic Society (NAS).

The eye-opening PSA takes viewers into the mind of a autistic woman as she thinks about struggling to stay composed in a crowded, noisy train.

It's worth a watch:

The PSA hit especially close to home for 22-year-old actress and star of the video Saskia Lupin, who is autistic herself. "Overall I feel confused," she said, of abrupt changes to her routine. "Like I can't do anything and all sense of rationality is lost."

She's not alone.

According to a study cited in NAS' press release, 75% of autistic people say unexpected changes make them feel socially isolated. What's more, 67% reported seeing or hearing negative reactions from the public when they try to calm themselves down in such situations — from eyerolls and stares to unwelcome, hurtful comments.

The new PSA aims to improve that last figure in particular.

It's part of the organization's Too Much Information campaign — an initiative to build empathy and understanding in allistic (i.e., not autistic) people for those on the spectrum.

Autism Awareness Day, campaign, World Autism Awareness Week

Campaign by National Autistic Society created to share the autistic experience to the world.

Photo from Pixabay

"It isn't that the public sets out to be judgmental towards autistic people," Mark Lever, chief executive of the NAS, said in a statement in 2016. It's just that, often, the public doesn't "see" the autism.

"They see a 'strange' man pacing back and forth in a shopping center," Lever explained, "or a 'naughty' girl having a tantrum on a bus, and don't know how to respond."

Well, now we do.

Instead of staring, rolling your eyes, or thinking judgmental thoughts about the young person's parents, remember: You have no idea what that stranger on the train is going through.

“We can't make the trains run on time," said Lever. But even the simplest, smallest things — like remembering not to stare and giving a person some space and compassion if they need it — can make a big difference.


This article originally appeared on 03.28.18