I laugh to think about my first experience with the internet. I was in grade school, and my school district had spent all summer wiring our antique buildings to go online. This upgrade, though, was only for the teachers. We kids would still have to contend with the 1980s green screen computers and floppy disk games.
This set-up did have a problem, however. The teachers didn’t necessarily know what the internet was. I know my teacher did not. She asked me to set up her computer to go on this “world wide web” thing that all of this work was for. I did my best. I hooked the computer up. But I don’t know if she ever figured out how to use it.
Flash forward to today. It’s 2010, and I don’t know what I would do without the internet. I use it for absolutely everything: research, work, shopping, and relaxing. Sometimes I fear I’m addicted to the internet, but then I take my family on a camping trip. Since I still manage to survive being in the woods without connecting on Facebook, I think I’m okay.
Still, think about what the global revolution of the internet means. Right now you are reading this through your web browser. Sure, I typed it on Microsoft Word (another program that I adore), but I located this opportunity and submitting my writing online. The editors who review it do so online, they send my compensation through PayPal, and I view my bank statements on the internet. It almost seems as if none of these activities really exist because they are all electronic and intangible.
I’m not saying, though, that this metaphysical contemplation makes me yearn for earlier times when I would have done this work in three dimensions. I love what I can do with the internet. For instance, I’m so glad to not have to go to a store to buy absolutely everything. My home is in a rural area, and there aren’t a lot of shopping options. Now, with most stores having web pages, I can browse, buy, and have the items shipped straight to my door. No need to make a five-hour drive to the nearest department store.
The internet has also made keeping in touch with friends and family easier. I still call my nearest and dearest to speak with them, but sometimes it’s just easier to post a one-line update of my status and let everyone know I’m still alive. And that I’m eating a peanut butter sandwich.
What used to be a grand mystery – the internet – continues to grow and change. I look forward to advancements because I know I can’t live without it now.