Friday, February 6, 2009

once underfoot, now six feet under

During my freshman year of college 14 years ago, my friend Julianne would occasionally mail me an advice column from an alt-weekly newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina, where she attended the College of Charleston. The paper's name was Doormat, and the column was called Dear Doormat. The questions were supposedly real, but the answers were always sarcastic, so once you figured out the gag you had to be a masochist to ask for advice. Then again, people still make fools of themselves on The Daily Show nearly 13 years after it debuted, because some people will do anything to get on TV. Or, in Doormat's case, see their words in print.

Here's a question printed in Dear Doormat during the 1994-'95 school year:

Dear Doormat,

I'm hooked up to the internet and I'm currently surfing the network. Could please publish your e-mail address for easy access?


The reply was:

Dear On-Line,

We don't do internet. Fax you.

For what it's worth, Doormat no longer exists, though I have no idea if it was another casualty of the Internet age or not.

To protect the innocent (though he is guilty of mediocre writing), I won't name the author of a Doormat column from November of '94 in which he listed the things he is and isn't thankful for. It's typical of college-newspaper op-eds, at least from when I was an undergrad: "I am thankful for all talented musicians who put passion into their work and are able to communicate it to those who listen. I am not thankful for uninspired dorks with instruments who should know who they are, but are probably too stupid."

He continues: "I am thankful for the modern technology that appeared as I grew up, such as remote control, VCRs, Compact Discs, and personal computers. But I am really not thankful for any modern technology since 1988, especially 'advances' that use the following terms: internet, on-line, superhighway and cyber-space. The same goes for Virtual Reality. Isn't Reality Reality complicated enough?"

But technology seems to have changed so rapidly since '94 that I'd imagine there's a ten-year-old somewhere in the world right now saying, "Now I can program the DVR with my phone? I just learned how to program the DVR period." Then again, probably not—I'm just old. The upside is that I'm thankful it's not November 1994 anymore.

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