1997: When the Internet Confused/Frightened Everyone

The World Wide Web

The World Wide Web

Here’s a fun thing that’s making the rounds on the “internet” (we’ll get to what that is in a minute): Yahoo News has re-posted this 27-minute instructional video from 1997 featuring the world’s most blandly photogenic family explaining how one goes about surfing the world wide web.

Needless to say, much of the amusement derives from the quaint graphics and outdated advice which, to be fair, is completely unavoidable. Less forgivable are the deliberate attempts at humor which are deployed swiftly and mercilessly (“‘Web page’?! What’s that? Something ducks walk on?”). Feel your embarrassment for these actors travel sixteen years across the sands of time. Know that these poor children are now adults somewhere, possibly with kids of their own, hoping (until recently) that the comically kitschy internet instructional video they made when they were younger would never see the light of YouTube.

Anyway, here’s a sample of some of the knowledge they helpfully impart:

Okay, guys, the first thing you need to know is that the internet is amazing…

Leaving aside whether or not you need to know that the internet is amazing at all, it’s certainly not the first thing you need to know about the internet, assuming you’re starting completely from scratch, unless you’re so unsure of your ability to make the internet compelling (We can even send President Clinton a letter on the internet! Why? Say it with me: Because the internet is amazing!).

Beyond that, you can learn what it means to “download” something, or how to pick the right search engine for you (I was a WebCrawler myself, back in the day).

Okay, we’re done making fun. Just watch and enjoy. Maybe try and have some pity for these poor kids, if you’re up for it. We tried. Lord knows we tried. Without further ado, here is “The Kid’s Guide to the Internet.”

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