I was born before I should have been. I was born just in time to miss inclusion into the digital native generation. Surfing the internet wasn’t a common household activity when I was in high-school. Word-processing was not a part of my repertoire until I entered college at twenty-two. In short, I have no idea what the hell is going on.
I did make a “mad-libs” program on my Adam’s Coleco Vision, using some kind of dos programming, when I was in middle-school. For a week, during a P.E. class, the instructor took us into a computer lab and taught us how to do such things. Our computers were indicative of the times. Basic, unimpressive machines, that required us to hit, “open apple reset” every few minutes. Then, on Friday, he brought in his windows enabled P.C. and showed us graphics. It was amazing. This was roughly, 1992, and I was amazed to see anything other than the standard black screen with a blinking white cursor. “Go to…I want to play kick ball…If…kick ball is unavailable…then go to…shoot me in the head.” But that experience opened my eyes to the wide world of machinery that my family wouldn’t be able to afford for another ten years.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have been using media, in various forms, to appease instructors for most of my academic life. Magazine clippings haphazardly placed into a collage. Newspaper articles clipped out and summarized so I could present a current event. Even the occasional type-written essay, formatted on my type-writer from hell, a fifteen year old “Brother” brand, white-writer; complete with a white out ribbon that my father hadn’t replaced for ten years.
I never got to use white out.
Fine. So I’m a techno-dumb dumb. But that was before 1998. That was the year my dad, on some sort of miraculous whim, came home from the Wal-Mart with a brand new Hewlett-Packard. “I used to drive for them!” He was a truck driver. He wouldn’t buy anything else. “Ryan, you’re good with this crap, right? You write programs and stuff. Set it up!”
I did. I so set it up…right then and there, in the front room. I jumped on there, ignoring the T.V. for the first time in 18 years of life, double-clicking away, trying my best to become a part of, what was then, an exciting new band-wagon: people with carpal-tunnel.
“Dammit! How many double-clicks does this thing take!?” I clicked and I clicked, but nothing happened. Just a white, boring screen, that said something about not being able to find the page. “What is a page, and why can’t you find it, computer!? Screw you!”
I made a few calls. Geek-squad did not exist. My friends had more money than me. They had computers since freshman year, maybe earlier. They had apples and Macintosh’s and if there was another fruit-puter, they’d buy it. They’d have an entire digital fruit salad, complete with whipped cream. I had trouble finding scrap paper around the house.
“Jeff! What the hell is wrong. I can’t get online.”
“Did you check the connection?”
“The connection. You have to plug it in.”
“To the phone line.” Yes, this was a while ago. (A side note: I will always miss that noise. “EEEEYYYYYAAAAAHHHHHHH. Like music to my immigrant ears.)
Okay. That really should’ve been the end of my story. Convincing my dad to pick up another bill so I could have unlimited online access to video-game cheat codes, was not going to be an easy task. I once spent three days in bed, wafting in and out of consciousness, with strep-throat, while he hovered over me with a glass of warm salt water. “Gargle. It’s the salt. It works miracles.”
But long story short, he picked up the bill, and changed my life.
Ten years later, and I don’t think I could get through a day without this thing. I’m not tech savvy. I’m not. These days, you really don’t have to be. I promise, it’s easy. I can hardly type to write this blog, and I use the internet to research papers, send e-mail, watch T.V., post videos, participate in forums, communicate on face-book, post music on myspace, look up definitions, and in general, run my life.
I use Google anytime I have an argument with anyone. Luke Skywalker’s dad was actually Wicket? BS. I’m googling that right now. You’re a liar.
The internet has changed the face of media and communication. My father’s generation graduated school, had a senior party, said goodbye, and went off to work, never seeing or communicating with these people again. I am connected. I have a little thing called face-book. I log in, and “boom,” everybody I have ever known is poking me. It’s wonderful. Like millions of comforting fingers.
I have i-tunes. I haven’t bought an album in years. I buy songs and put them right on my i-pod. I walk around with this tiny rectangular wafer that holds an entire jukebox, in my pocket.
A dream: I was in a crowded store, walking down an isle. As I moved deeper down the isle, I left everyone behind. The aisle went on forever, and after I had gotten far enough away from the jabber of the crowd, I stopped. I listened to the silence. I heard someone crying. A man, sitting, with his head in his hands, on the floor.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“I own this store.”
“Why are you crying?”
“No one buys anything here anymore. They come here to look. They shop online.”
The internet has changed my life. My brain is online. The internet has given me access to a virtually limitless amount of information, entertainment, and communication. It has done the same for you. Log on. Maybe I’ll see you there sometime.