The Author Recounts His Childhood

The first personal computer my family owned was a Commodore 64. By today’s standards, it was an ugly, clumsy dinosaur: a boxy monitor as deep as it was wide, a bulky gray keyboard with bulky black keys in which all the circuitry was housed, a stand-alone floppy disk drive that whirred and sputtered maniacally, a power adapter the size of Gibraltar. There was no internal hard drive, only sixty-four kilobytes of random access memory — a slate that wiped itself clean when you turned off the machine — of which, its startup screen asserted, 38,911 bytes were free for BASIC programming. The dot-matrix printer was fed paper in a continuous stream from a cardboard box too heavy for me to lift. The headache-inducing noise produced by the sound card became the stuff of my nightmares. But to my seven-year-old mind, hypnotized by the digital flash of Star Trek: The Next Generation and convinced we were now the pioneers of a future which would take us to the stars, our Commodore 64 was a giant leap for mankind. . . .

The Author Admits His Bias

To comprehend the history I now set about exposing, it’s necessary you should first know something of my character: I lag behind the times. This I owe to a certain spirit of reclusion in my family. We care very little for the pursuits and preoccupations of our contemporaries; we walk while they run. We see no sense, either, in spending our money trying to keep up with progress, which never stops anyway. . . .

The Author Proposes His Theme

PgDn, PgDn, PgDn — why use the arrow keys, why creep through this tedious procession of posts? Links, images, videos, lists, quotes, articles, news items, op-eds, hashtags, screencaps, clickbait, selfies, looping GIFs, emojis, memes. Nostalgia, outrage, silliness, boasting, self-pity, criticism, hypersensitivity, overreaction, callousness, taunting, indignation, self-righteousness, glibness, vilification, slurring, stereotyping, thought-policing. I Don’t Do This Anymore and Here’s Why, You’re Deluding Yourself If You Think Such-and-Such, Why Those People Are Dead Wrong, This Is the Most Outrageous / Adorable / Stupid Thing You’ll See Today, Take This Quiz and Find Out Something Utterly Pointless, You’ll Never Believe What Happened Next. . . .