Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Choose (Online) Life

I was reading the latest news on the BBC website, having finished writing an email for submitting an e-form application; and after logging-out of my online bank account where I was keeping a 24 hour eye on finances; whilst listening to streaming music on spotify, and also quickly checking the train timetable on the railway e-route planner; before buying some groceries on an e-shop, whilst speaking to a friend in America on instant chat, and also quickly monitoring the daily lives, and their breakfast contents, of thousands of strangers on twitter....when it occurred to me, that actually, I really DID spend quite a lot of time on the internet.

This shocking [sic] revelation made me think. What did I do before the internets? Could I even remember a time before online media engulfed my life like a smothering python of digital information.

I remember the very first time I saw the World Wide Web. I was studying GCSE I.T in high school. Just like how my father points to areas of Cardiff to me sometimes and claims; "In my day Sian, it were all fields..." ...in my day, it were all Windows 3.1. The memory of the retro graphics fill me with happy pixelated nostalgia. 

One drab Wednesday morning I trudged into class and sat down at my computer, ready to crack open a spreadsheet and devour it whole. But no. Today, we were being shown something NEW. Something DIFFERENT. Something that was apparently, THE NEXT BIG THING. We were being shown - "The World Wide Web".

I had heard of the World Wide Web, of course. But it was spoken and comprehended very much in the same way I now try to fathom the phenomenon that is "High School Musical". I sort of knew what it is, but also very much didn't.

Only one computer in the school I.T room had the Internet. The whole class clambered around the huge monitor (the days when monitors were the size of dog kennels and weighed the same as a baby rhino) and the teacher began her splurge. We were gathered around like how I imagined they would have watched the Coronation in 1953, only we weren't dressed like Just William.
"This is the WORLD WIDE WEB. This is THE INTERNET." She spent about 25 minutes clicking on icons before the computer started to make strange other-worldly noises. This was bizarre. And yet strangely alluring. The INTERNET was dialing. Whatever that meant. Something about phone-lines. Little did I know how familiar that little mechanical tinny tune would become, the sound that was like someone had put a spectrum underwater mid-space invaders. 

SO WE WERE ONLINE! Whatever that meant. The teacher told us she was taking us to "Yah. Hoo. Li. Guns" which was actually Yahooligans. I thought this sounded rather inappropriate for school class. But apparently, this white screen in front of us was linking us up to the corners of the globe! It didn't seem to make much sense. The whole world was at our fingertips! She said. We could access all this information! And what would we look up? The BT Yacht Challenge. It looked like a slightly slimmer lined version of Pong, with a few map lines. That was it.

My first experience of the internet was a damp squib. So damp it was more a drenched squib left out in the rain that got Noah. And yet over the years I have grown to love it.
Since that very first day, the Internet has slowly become such a systematically normal part of my daily routine, I can barely remember how I coped without it. People may complain about change, bemoan the loss of the old ways, which may be justified, or maybe not. But I love the way the Internet evolves and morphs. It may not always be positive, and we should be wary of potential dangers, but the Internet has and can bring people together, and share incredible information. Besides, life is about change and knowledge. Let's embrace it. Or express my love for it via social online media....


Juliette Llewellyn said...

Hey Sian, i like this post alot. its good to reflect on life now that online life exists alongside offline life. I try to regulate my time online for many reasons but it is true i use the internet for so many things! Finding a flat, planning trips, expressing creativity, running groups, chatting sometimes, finding out what's on and the list goes on. Though actually my latest post on my blog is a post of some time i recently spent in the Gower - 2 weeks without access to the internet, and you know, it kind of brought me back to a time where people just amble and talk and things happen in a different way... hope you're good! Xx

Dan said...

e-mail e-form e-route e-shop? e-by gum.