This is a terribly random blog post, but I was sitting around thinking about how much the Internet has changed and how I interacted with the Internet since I first became acquainted with it and felt compelled to blog.
My first experience was my parents’ purchasing a 1995/6 Acer computer for our family home:
Yes, it was really that green color. (Aside: I will say this about my parents- while we wanted for nothing growing up, they were really never compelled to go after brand names. In fact, one could say they were almost anti-popular or “expensive” brand. My dad has driven a Ford for the past 10 years almost, the family has never owned an Apple computer, and my mom legitimately learns every fashion brand through her daughters…and I guess I now know why we suck at that stuff hahahaha).
Anywho, I spent most of my grade school days from 3rd-4th grade on, surfing the Internet on this faithful computer with a dial-up modem connection. At first, I mostly stuck to random computer games and opening an email account. But then AIM came into my life.
I remember getting really into it starting in 7th or 8th grade and it continuing all through college even. There were so many hilarious conversations and pent up emotions in these pubescent chats. I remember SCREAMING if my parents picked up the phone and kicked me off!!!! (prior to call waiting being invented). Especially if I was in the middle of a chat with a crush!
Waiting for the modem to dial back through were some of the most excruciating, painful minutes of my adolescent life:
You’ve Got Mail! Never sounded so good. The sounds of opening doors and shutting doors- my buddy list! I still remember people’s screen names. Bl0ndie773 being mine. FOR SHAME.
There was also Napster, itunes, webshots, and of course Google search (Ask Jeeves and Yahoo prior to that). This is where I spent the majority of my time online in grade school and high school, or if I was researching for a paper. We didn’t have email in high school until our senior year I don’t think….it’s sort of strange to think about.
In college, we were set up with a UVA email, through some bIZARRE webmail program known as Mulberry. From there I used email pretty frequently and still instant messaged with people. And stalked their webshots that my “buddies” would link to in their away message.
Then came Facebook. What did I used to do online before Facebook, I often wondered in college? Also keep in mind none of us could access the internet from a phone until near the end of college. Now, I can’t imagine not having access to the Internet right from my hand — and it definitely makes me sad. And even Facebook itself has completely morphed from how it started— I don’t think I could have even fathomed what it would become back in the day when it literally was just photos with bios of people. We didn’t even have a wall! You couldn’t even post more photos other than your profile picture!
Also near the end of college came Gchat. All my older friends who had graduated and started work were already hopping on gmail and gchat- Google’s latest thing. Slowly people began abandoning their AIM screen names and going over to gmail and gchat. Better email, and chat at the same time? Why bother?
Then came Twitter. And wordpress. And tumblr. And Google +. And Instagram. And 50 billion other social internet sites that people now spend hours and hours on all over the world. And the iPhone has seen about fifty billion versions and Blackberry doesn’t’ even exist anymore. (Okay exaggerating slightly, but you get my drift). Many newspapers and magazines don’t even publish print copies anymore. Everything can be accessed on your mobile device. And now you can wear said mobile devices as watches, or glasses, or contacts!?! And they can monitor your blood pressure, and tell you how many calories you’ve burned.
AND ALL OF THIS IS EXHAUSTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! hahahahaha. And has resulted in me being burnt out. And maybe even using the Internet for less than what it’s original purpose was for: Connecting with other people.
I hardly talk to my friends on gchat anymore. Probably 1/10 of what I used to in the old days. ANd yes, a lot of it is life just gets busy and work takes over, but I do think some of it is people are a bit burnt out from being tied to computers and phones for such large portions of their day. Facebook seems overwhelming to me, so despite being on it for most of the day to monitor our work pages, I hardly “connect” w/ any of my friends other than the “like” on photos. I text a lot or “imessage” but even that doesn’t take the place of a phone call or in-person meeting. I wish I FaceTimed more or video-chatted, but a lot of people don’t like to do it unless you’re a significant other: “no I look terrible!” And ironically, I’m typing all of this out on the Internet.
Just some random thoughts about how much has changed in our lifetime and it makes me think of how much more will change in the next couple of decades. I’m wondering if there will be some sort of backlash against all of this technology. While much has been for good, I do find myself longing for the simpler days at times. And thinking about a trip where I can turn my phone off and leave my email unread :-).