Who doesn't remember navigating their first computer and trying to get good at all the games and platforms that were circulating in those days? Neopets and Xanga, I'm looking at you. It feels like it was a simpler time back then, except when you start to remember the pressure you felt, both internally and from friends, to make sure your avatar would be impeccably perfect.
And what was more perfect back then than giving your computer characters edgy names? I personally remember one epic slumber party where my friends and I were playing The Sims and someone dared me to call my character "diaria," which is how we thought diarrhea was spelled. I remember the thrill of typing those letters in, and the feeling of praying my parents weren't about to walk in has stayed with me to this day.
Recently, a woman named Gemma shared a funnier version of my story with a more hilarious ending that got users on Twitter clamoring to share their own stories of covering their tracks for their "crimes" as kids.
"When I was 6," she writes, "I named my Animal Crossing character 'sex' and couldn't change it back so panicked, went outside the next day and smashed the game card with a hammer. I have lived with this my whole life."
It's crazy how much these stories have stayed with us into adulthood, and have probably contributed to shaping the people we are today. It's also insane how relatable Gemma's story is, not just to me, but to the hundreds who've jumped in to share their tales of youthful woe.
As another fellow SIMs user wrote, "When I was 12, I made two SIM girls woohoo with each other and then I panicked and took the battery out of my laptop and didn’t use it again." What's almost funnier to me than the shame with which we all reacted is wondering how many perfectly usable technology gadgets were abandoned for the sole reason that a child was too embarrassed to face their naughty actions.
But it also sounds like a lot of us had a field day when we learned the word "sex" for the first time. Just take this woman, who shared how she "once set our computer password to 'sex' and when my mom couldn't log in and I had to type it in, I started crying."
Or this person who wrote how they didn't understand the word and thought "the only logical thing" to do was to visit the dot-com website. I mean, I totally see where they were coming from. But how incredible is it that they've lived with the weight of this secret for twenty years?!
Another very popular genre when reviewing the mishaps of our youths is the absolutely ratchet passwords we thought were sooo wise and funny and unguessable.
One guy writes how he once forgot his password and absolutely didn't want to get his dad involved. Which is par for the course. "I changed my Prodigy BBO (c.1990) password and promptly forgot it," he begins. "Could have had my Dad call and unlock, or have them snail-mail it."
Obviously he took the snail-mail option, so he could be the first to greet the mailman and take his much-awaited parcel off of his hands. He continues, "Took two weeks for me to get a piece of paper in the mail that said SIXTYNINE."
Then there was this other guy who thought he was so sly to pick a password no one would have thought of, only to have the tech support guy laugh in his face.
But the sorrows of password fails seem to have followed some other people past their childhood and tweens, into their high school days. Take this sophomore who was trying to log into her computer account.
"When I was a sophomore in HS I forgot my school login password and had to ask the lady at the library to pull it up," she shared on Twitter. "When she did she looked at me, didn’t say anything and turned the screen towards me and said 'is this it?' My password was jackass1. I just nodded and walked away."
Sounds like it wasn't the librarian's first rodeo. Honestly, I can't imagine all the things librarians witness, just from recalling memories of the trouble my classmates would get into every time we had a period of study hall.
Another prevalent fave is the first time we learned the F-bomb as kids, and all the ways we tried to throw the word around whenever we got the chance. Kind of. Until guilt got the better of us.
Kathryn's anecdote might be my favorite one yet, just because it blends in not only the trauma of having written a curse word down for the first time at the age of 9, but also because it includes "those pens" that require a special light to read the message. Girl, I was all about those growing up.
Another person shared how, at 8 years old, they "used a sharpie to write 'f--k' on my parents fridge." The best part is that they "covered it up with magnets and [have] never checked to see if it’s still there."
Hun, that's what the holidays were for! To review all of our past errors and post them on Instagram and Twitter while no one else is working so everyone can applaud and laugh at past-you! Whatever, there's always next year.
Another innocent Twitter user wrote about the time they traced the word on the "fogged up bathroom mirror" and "was filled with glee" until their mom showed them that the message would "show up the next time the mirror fogged up." Big whoops.
And don't even get me started on how fun those "accidental" 911 prank phone calls were. I don't know why we ever thought that police a) could take a joke or b) wouldn't totally harsh our mellows.
Don't scroll past this like you have no idea what I'm talking about. I mean, who didn't do this in the late night on their purple and pink Clueless phones with friends? Or wait, is it really just me and these two people on Twitter?
One Ava went on to illustrate my point exactly when she wrote how "One time when I was 9 my friend and I prank called 911 at our friend’s birthday party." It always happens at birthday parties or slumber parties, didn't I tell you. She continues, "then when the 911 operator answered we giggled and hung up..." Not knowing that "20 minutes later" the police would show up "at our hotel room door!"
A couple of follow-up questions for Ava are bubbling up inside me. The first and most important being: Did your friend really rent out a hotel room to throw her own 9th birthday party?!
Then there was this guy, who claims he was 7 (do we believe him? I feel like I may or may not have done this just last year) when he had the grand idea to dial 911 on an out-of-service flip phone.
However, all phones that can reach a signal will dial 911, whether or not there is a wireless plan attached. The fact that he buried the flip phone to cover his tracks is the true cherry on top and really adds to the point I made earlier: how many perfectly usable gadgets would we find if we started digging the backyards of houses we knew kids live in?
The possibilities seem endless.