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A picture of an old computer is making millennials nostalgic for a time when the internet felt like a luxury

Andrew Lloyd   

A picture of an old computer is making millennials nostalgic for a time when the internet felt like a luxury
  • An image of a retro computer desktop went viral, sparking nostalgia among millennials.
  • A viral user lamented how the internet had since become "a terror that extends to everywhere."

A photo of what appears to be an early 2000s computer set-up has blown up online, sparking nostalgia for a time when the internet was confined to a single space, rather than a constant feature of everyday life.

On December 19, an X user who goes by Dexter shared an image of a retro-looking desktop that many millennials likely grew up with. A large desk housed a chunky monitor, a keyboard and mouse combo on a dedicated sliding drawer, a printer, CD-ROMs, and a bulky tower that powered the whole thing.

"There was a time when we respected the computer," they wrote alongside the image.

The post received 17.3 million views and hundreds of comments, many of which shared fond memories of the early days of the internet when they were growing up, specifically how limited their access to the web had once been.

The following day, another X user went viral when they quoted the original post and said they'd been "nostalgia-bated" by the image, and that they missed a time when the internet was "a single, solitary, unmoving place instead of a terror that extends to everywhere."

The sentiment appeared to resonate — the post received 11.7 million views and over 500 comments, many of which shared similar thoughts.

Users wrote that logging onto the internet back in the chunky-desktop days had seemed like a big event, and felt like a special space you could visit and ultimately leave. Many said they missed the days when they weren't constantly logged in and connected to the online world 24/7.

If you too remember most households having just one computer in the 2000s, you're probably right. According to research from the tech research consultancy Forrester, even as late as 2011, only 48% of households in the US and Canada had multiple PCs.

The high cost of computers and the fact that most people with internet still used dial-up connections until the mid-2000s meant that for many people, accessing the internet was a deliberate activity that had a clear beginning and end — a far cry from today's world of contact instant connectivity in our pockets.

That's what a TikTok user who goes by addressed in a video referencing the X post.

She said "the internet has brought such amazing things" but questioned the amount of time people now spent online, and whether implementing more separation, as people were forced to do in a pre-smartphone world, may be beneficial.

Are you nostalgic for when we were less connected? #internet #oldcomputer #twitter #x #computerdesk #nostalgia #internetnostalgia #disconnect #places #digitalfootprint

♬ original sound - some frogs

The video received 760,000 views and over 1,900 comments, many of which reminisced about their former desktop activities growing up, like chatting with school friends over MSN Messenger. Most commenters agreed that they felt times had changed and they could no longer simply log off when they wanted to.

One user wrote in a popular comment that they felt bad for Gen Z as the generation had largely grown up online so they didn't get to experience a "net-free world" in this way, while others wrote they were planning a "digital detox" to reduce their own screen time.

A digital detox, where people intentionally limit their internet use, can have both negative and positive effects, a recent study by researchers at Durham University found. They tasked 51 students with avoiding social media sites like Facebook and TikTok for a week, and tracked their moods in a self-recorded survey over 15 days.

The researchers found that the digital detox caused participants to experience a reduction in negative emotions like intimidation and harassment, and participants felt less FOMO, but they also experienced more boredom and loneliness as a result, Business Insider previously reported.

While the viral photo may have led to a sense of collective nostalgia, it's worth noting that the past is often viewed through rose-tinted glasses. And if you're still unconvinced, here's a reminder of the realities of the internet of yesteryear:


Internet 2000s ✨ #internet #internetcore #internetcoreaesthetic #internetold #y2k #y2kaesthetic #www #worldwideweb #2000s #2000skids #2000sinternet #2000sinternetnostalgia #nostalgic #nostalgia #nostalgicgames #oldweb #oldwebcore #windows

♬ оригинальный звук - Mr_glitch

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