Back when the Internet was new, what is now called "social networking" was an idea just getting under way. The phrase "social network" is kind of a catch-all term that refers to any web site where people are invited to sign on, post a profile, and get to know other people.
Some are traditional dating services that charge a fee for trying to match up compatible couples, while others are ad-supported sites that make it possible for folks to create their own personalized web pages and invite others post messages, photos, and even videos on the pages.
Probably the best known and most successful of these is
Well, when I found the Writing Boards, AOL had no formalized "social networking" area where people could come to meet one another. In fact, if anything posted on one of the Writing Boards looked like a deliberate attempt to "meet someone" it was considered a violation of AOL's TOS (terms of service). Believe it or not, I was once accused of committing such a violation and got kicked off AOL. The whole amazing story can be seen here:
The Day I Got Kicked Off AOL
In any case, writers getting to know other writers was just a natural course of events on the boards. And writers flirting with other writers followed just as naturally.
What also followed, not surprisingly, were a few rivalries, some jealousies, and some fairly vicious attempts at revenge. In fact, I could write a good-sized book about some of the things I was privy to in those days. However, I'll just tell about some of the more bizarre adventures I was in on.
Maybe I should start with the flirting. There were certainly some very interesting women there, many of whom were lonely and who were ripe to be flirted with. Some were divorced or widowed, while some were married but unhappy with their marriages. A few were quite young and had never been married, but they were a small minority.
Many of the women - in fact, I would say most - mainly wanted someone they could talk to - someone who would lend them a sympathetic ear and say comforting things to them. This was how I came to learn about many of the surprising things that were going on. I've always been a good listener.
Another interesting thing was that most of the writing was about the actual lives of the writers - their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations, their fears, their frustrations, and their disappointments. This was particularly true of those who wrote poetry. It didn't take long to become pretty well acquainted with the day-to-day lives of the poetesses.
When I first joined the group I was pretty naïve about a lot of things, including many of the acronyms being used. The first time I saw LOL I thought it meant Lots Of Love, and was pleased that all the ladies liked me so well they kept punctuating their messages with frequent LOLs. Finding out what it really meant was kind of an embarrassing let-down.
The first time I heard the term "cyber sex" I had no clue what it meant. But I learned very quickly one evening.