When I was 9 I got my first screen name. Pigpen521, still my AIM handle to this day for nostalgia’s sake, was my first identity on the web. Like every 9 year old at the time I played games, then later drifted off into a land of Neopets and other strange strange-social-networking-for-kid-sites. I had a Xanga too of course like all “lil’ bloggers” did. But at a young age, one event gave me blind faith in the internet.
If you can remember to the internet-age when this noise filled your eardrums daily, you’ll also remember that your AOL or Hotmail inbox was often filled with chain-emails. Everything from singing smileys to crazy pictures, to jewish jokes (my grandpa has an email account too) and promises of cash for forwarding clogged my inbox (nothing else was coming in anyways). But one email sparked my interest, it was from my mom’s friend Natalie. Natalie was my mom’s co-worker that always would send me birthday gifts and tell me “don’t you hate school as much as I do?” (she was a middle-school teacher that really did deserve better). The email Natalie sent me said “Free M&M’s if you send this to ten people.” I sent it out because I was a chubby nine year old and I loved me some candy.
Two weeks later, email completely forgotten, a package arrived at my door. It was filled with bags and bags and bags of M&M’s. Regular, peanut, and the-ever-popular-at-the-time crispy, you name it I had it- in bulk. I was rich in chocolate and I couldn’t be more joyous. But what I was really happy about was that it had worked! I had gotten something by using the internet as my tool!
Later in my life (as I was writing this up) I realized/found out that Natalie had sent me the M&M’s the whole time. But this doesn’t discourage the message that email taught me. I now just have to thank Natalie and not the inter-webs for instilling within me the faith that a simple email can make things happen for people.