+
upworthy
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...

Giphy

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…

A map of the United States post land-ice melt.


Land ice: We got a lot of it.

Considering the two largest ice sheets on earth — the one on Antarctica and the one on Greenland — extend more than 6 million square miles combined ... yeah, we're talkin' a lot of ice.

But what if it was all just ... gone? Not like gone gone, but melted?

Keep ReadingShow less
Kevin Parry / Twitter

Toronto-based animator and video wizard Kevin Parry has gone mega-viral for his mind-boggling collection of videos where he turns himself into random objects.

In a series of quick clips he changes into everything from a pumpkin to a bright yellow banana and in most of the videos, he appears to suffer a ridiculous death. The videos combine studio trickery with a magician's flair.

Keep ReadingShow less
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.

Keep ReadingShow less
OriginalAll photos belong to Red Méthot, who gave me permission to share them here.

Chloé was born at 32 weeks.


Every single day, babies across the world are born prematurely, which means that they're born before 37 weeks of gestation.

In Canada, about 29,000 infants are born prematurely each year, roughly 1 in every 13. But in the United States, around 400,000 to 500,000 are born early. That's about 1 in every 8 to 10 babies born in the U.S.!

Red Méthot, a Canadian photographer and student, decided to capture the resilience of many of these kids for a school photography project.

Keep ReadingShow less
Democracy

Teacher tries to simulate a dictatorship in her classroom, but the students crushed her

"I’ve done this experiment numerous times, and each year I have similar results. This year, however, was different."

Each year that I teach the book "1984" I turn my classroom into a totalitarian regime under the guise of the "common good."

I run a simulation in which I become a dictator. I tell my students that in order to battle "Senioritis," the teachers and admin have adapted an evidence-based strategy, a strategy that has "been implemented in many schools throughout the country and has had immense success." I hang posters with motivational quotes and falsified statistics, and provide a false narrative for the problem that is "Senioritis."

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by insung yoon on Unsplash

The MC Hammer dance though.

Father and daughter dances are a traditional staple of weddings. They tend to range somewhere between tearfully sweet and hilariously cringey. But sometimes, as was the case of Brittany Revell and her dad Kelly, they can be so freakin’ cool that millions of people become captivated.

Brittany and Kelly’s video, which amassed, I kid you not, more than 40 million views on TikTok, shows the pair grooving in sneakers (Brittany’s were white because, hello, wedding dress) to their “dance through the decades.”

It all began with Young MC’s “Bust a Move,” to give you a clear picture. And bust a move, they did.

Though the duo did a handful of iconic moves—the tootsie roll, the MC Hammer dance, the Carlton, just to name a few—“the dougie,” made famous by Cali Swag District, was the obvious fan favorite.
Keep ReadingShow less