I don't remember where I first read about My So-Called Life -- in Sassy, most likely, back when Sassy still rocked. But I definitely remember reading a little preview piece that raved about the show, so I made a mental note to check it out.
I don't remember when I joined the listserve about the show, either. I do remember that I had a Compuserve account, one of the ones with a string of numbers instead of a name, and I remember that I had to connect to the internet via a 2400-baud connection, and I remember my brother bitching at me every night to quit tying up the phone line we shared because the My So-Called List generated hundreds of emails a day and took forever to download. I was living at home at the time, working for my dad, treading water, split up from my friends and freaking out about the crappy job market, and My So-Called Life gave me something good to care about.
And we "listies" cared about it, intensely, constantly. We argued passionately, without cease, about the show, back and forth, on and on: whether Patty and Graham would have gotten divorced, where the Rayanne/Sharon friendship might have gone, which episode is the weakest in the run ("Weekend" is the majority choice, but I always voted "Halloween"), and of course whether Angela would have gone with Brian or Jordan in the second season. Which we never saw, and of course we argued about that, too -- whether the programming chief at ABC at the time, Ted Harbert, was evil or just weak-willed, whether Claire Danes's unwillingness to sign a new contract had spelled certain doom for the series, where we should send the sternly worded postcards we'd written, and so on.
So, you could say that I've associated television -- television I had fervent opinions about, positive or negative -- with the internet since the very beginning. And I do mean the beginning, because, again: 2400 baud. Half y'all probably don't know that term, so let me define it for you: "slow." Slow as Siberian molasses. We didn't have boards or forums, or blogs; we had listserves and newsgroups. Everyone's email address was some jumbly encrypted-looking hot mess, and Netcom was a big player in the online world. You wanted to search for something, you used Lycos. No iTunes, no Facebook, no IM, we had to walk to AOL uphill both ways in the snow and fight off the "I love you" virus with our loose-leaf notebooks.
But even with the technological challenges presented by practically having to wind up the internet like a Victrola in order to use it, it seemed so important and exciting -- not only banding together to try to save a show we all seemed to need, we loved it so much and identified with it so strongly, but doing so in a big group from all over the country, people of all ages and experiences and orientations. It felt like a mission.