Millennials were the first generation to grow up using the early version of the internet. If you grew up talking to strangers in chat rooms, some of these platforms might invoke a bit of nostalgia.
Here are some social platforms that will remind you of the way the internet used to be, and alternative platforms you could use today.
mIRC Alternative: Discord
Chat rooms were a huge thing in the mid-90s and early 2000s. One of the most popular chat platforms was mIRC. The platform allowed you to communicate, share, and even play with others on the IRC networks globally.
You could join discussions, enter virtual rooms, and even have private chats with people you met in these rooms. With a clean interface, which also supported file transfers, the platform was a fun way to find new friends, work with others, and share content online.
Discord can be considered similar to mIRC in some ways. It is also a chat app that lets you set up servers in which you can talk to people all over the world. When you invite someone, they get a link to join. When they’re in, they can chat and send voice messages to anyone using the server.
Each server has its own channels which are named after topics of discussion. You can make private and public channels, and invite people into those too. You can be a part of as many servers as you want. This is similar to mIRC where you could talk to multiple people, at the same time.
MySpace Alternative: Tumblr
MySpace is a social network that grew in popularity between 2005 and 2008. It was made up of people’s profiles, and everyone was friends with a guy called Tom.
The early profile pages featured photos, interests, and links to other people’s profiles. It also allowed you to message people and embed videos and music into your profile to create your own pages. Users could comment and interact with people they were friends with.
If you liked MySpace, Tumblr could offer an alternative. Even though it’s been around since the mid-2000s, it’s still popular today. It’s been described as a micro-blogging site which allows users to post content in a shorter format compared to a regular blog. Bloggers can have public and private blogs, and users can follow each other’s blogs.
You can share content, follow hashtags, post quotes, photos, links, music, and videos. The platform combines blogging and social networking in the same way that MySpace created a space for easy content exchange. These days, you can enjoy using Tumblr without the ads, but for a price. You can also easily filter content on your Tumblr dashboard for a personalized experience.
Early Internet Forums Alternative: Reddit
Old-school internet forums, or message boards, offered a place where people could have conversations and post content. They were huge in the 90s and 2000s and popular among both teens and adults.
Much like Reddit, people could join communities centered around various topics such as hobbies, technology, gaming, entertainment, as well as hundreds of other niche interests. You can still view some of these discussions via Usenet Archives, if you’re interested in internet forum history.
If you’re interested in what Reddit is and how it works, it acts much like a forum. It is however, a social website where readers can post stories and other content which is then ranked according to popularity. With its updated UI, it can at first appear “busy”, but searching for what you want, and participating in discussions, gets easier the more you get used to the platform.
It is built around communities that are centered around anything. You can ask questions, share content, engage in discussions, and participate in user-created boards called “subreddits”. The content is then moderated by administrators, much like in the early forums.
Communication Doesn’t Change
Whether you started using the internet in the late 90s, or only a decade ago, you can still get glimpses of the old internet through some modern apps and technologies. Social media channels have evolved enormously, but one thing stays the same, people are, and always will be, eager to connect and communicate.