In 1997, the internet was perhaps the polar opposite of what it is today. There was little to no porn, no captioned pictures, social networking was virtually non existent. In fact, people mostly used the internet to exchange information and learn about a variety of topics. How did they find the information they were looking for? Who knows - because Google didn't exist yet.
Despite the fact that the Internet was minuscule compared to what it is today and contained next to no adorable cat photos, the world went into a mass panic on April 25, 1997 when the internet went down unexpectedly for a few hours. The reason for the internet crash took experts around the world a couple of hours to figure out, and it's extremely complex and complicated if explained into it's fullest.
To keep it simple, a single man ACCIDENTALLY rerouted the entire internet onto his network, thus, crashing the network, and in turn, crashing the entire internet that existed solely on his network.