Memes of Our Adolescence: A Memoir of Growing Up on the Internet

When I was in elementary school, I attended speech therapy; usually grouped with students from the Special Ed class, we played games which emphasized specific sounds. I had trouble pronouncing r’s and s’s and t’s and v’s and d‘s and nearly every other letter. In fourth grade, I recall entering the speech therapy office (located near the back of the school) to see computers waiting, their screens bright and displaying the start menu of some game which would help us. Already, I was quite familiar with computers; we used them twice a week in Computer class (I’m not sure what it was called then), completing online quizzes to test our mathematical and literary skills. At home, the situation was no different.

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My parents purchased  a bevy of computer-based games for our family monitor, and the ones I can recall most sharply were named The Clue Finders. Each iteration of the game was designed for a different grade level: in one game, The Clue Finders explores Ancient Egyptian temples and in the next underground grottos housing dangerous volcanoes, and so on. We also had access to the internet, the dial-up internet, which required a series of squawks and guttural churning, like someone preparing to hawk a lugie (name for a wad of snot and spit and mucous collected at the back of one’s throat and projected across a room).

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Not long after, when I was in seventh or eighth grade, my parents purchased high-speed wifi, and gone were the days of discordant dialing-in. Gone were the days when one must log off line before your mother could use the telephone. Gone were the days of the Dewey Decimal System, which elementary school librarians attempted in vain to teach us. But by the time my generation came about, this system was dead. Dead as disco.

So we grew up on the Internet. Technology played an important role in our adolescence, shaping us in more ways than one.

This was the beginning of a new generation, and by the time we reached high school, we had mastered technology in such ways our parents could never understand. The generation of Four-Loko-fueled YOLO. The generation of secret Tumblr accounts, sharing messages with strangers.

In ninth grade, I recall a particularly interesting phenomenon known as Mystery Google. One typed in any phrase and were instead transported to another person’s search. This allowed us to share our social media profiles like the Bubonic Plague. At the time, I had just begun recording videos of myself to put on Youtube (a strange adolescent trend), and Mystery Google allowed me to accumulate views. More importantly, my life would be slowly translated to video and uploaded to Youtube. Two years later, I would begin writing blogs. We were hooked, plugged-in to the ether of the nether-webs like no generation before.

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And now there will be another shift. The next generation will never play Spin the Bottle without the IPhone app; they will never discover pornographic magazines in their houses but rather delve into the sexual world via the Internet. I mean, imagine the simple consequences of something as strange as Chatroulette—what will we learn growing up in this world where smut and sin and secrets are merely the currency of the online world?

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What I find most intriguing, however, about the generation of students both in university and in high school is the proliferation of memes. The word memes, of course, applies beyond its Internet meaning: a meme is a re-occurring idea or theme within culture. According to the All-Knower and Grab-Bag-Research-Tool-Of-Our-Times Wikipedia, a meme “conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation”.

We have been able, then, to create a shorthand of memes: pictures with captions. When one sees Kermit The Frog Drinking Tea or Skeptical Willy Wonka or Grumpy Cat, we understand what sort of message will be depicted. We understand the context of the idea, allowing text to build upon this foundation of knowledge.

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Memes, then, much in the same vein of art (films, books, philosophy) serve as a cultural shorthand. We have crafted a universal and complicated slang that might surpass the slangs of previous eras; no longer too may this slang, whether they be words or memes, remain regional. We understand each other, our generation, in ways that are intimate, encompassing, and really, really weird.

And we know what that sound means, you know the one, the sound of a train crashing through your house, that nuclear siren that announces the Internet’s imminent arrival. The sound of dial-up that might as well been our toddler lullaby. An idea we need not speak in order to understand.

Dial-Up

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A Solipsistic Writer’s Guide to Writing About Yourself on the Internet

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I’m not sure what they’re calling my generation now—Generation Me, The Facebook Generation, The Slacker Generation, Millennial Generation, whatever. The diagnosis, no matter the given title, is clear: self-obsessed, self-entitled, bratty, morally weak, and eternally cynical. That about sums it up, the portrait painted by the other generations about our generation—courtesy of Generation X and the Baby Boomers (which sounds, to be frank, like twin circus rocket-men stuck in the bodies of infants). When we hear the criticisms arraigned against us, we often retaliate—this was your fault, anyways; you’re generalizing; blah, blah, let me Tweet about this.

When it comes to the current generation of writers, however (let’s say 15-25 years old), perhaps these modifiers are correct. Perhaps too are these modifiers useful. We are a generation that passed through adolescence with access to Tumblr. We can talk incessantly about ourselves on Twitter, update each grueling low and ecstatic high of our relationships on Facebook, and upload videos of ourselves talking to ourselves on Youtube. We mastered the act of the confessional in the sixth grade, learned to craft personal narratives in under 140 characters. In other words, our tendency to be solipsistic, to express the world through our particular lenses, allows us also to be some of the greatest marketers in the writing world.

Even now, I am only writing this blog in hopes you might become curious about me as a person; so invested, perhaps you will read about my book and later buy my book, and so invested, you will buy every book I ever publish.

See what I just did? Self-marketing. We were born for it. Ain’t no shame or self-awareness for us, no, we grew up writing essays about our feelings in secret AOL chat rooms.o-THE-REAL-ME-GENERATION-facebook

The strange phenomenon of being a “modern writer” is the new wave of marketing techniques, namely writing blogs and tweets and Facebook statuses. Did you know that some writers keep a schedule of the tweets they’re going to send out? I would also totally do that if I were more organized, though it’s a hubris we can pass off as generational, right? The days of locking yourself away in a log cabin to clack out a masterpiece on a rusty typewriter are long over—we’re the generation of Microsoft Word, the generation of the #amwriting hashtag, the generation of getting paid to muse about celebrities online and create lists for, seriously, literally anything.

The internet for the writer offers both an incredible resource and a black hole of time-wasting activities. On the one hand, we can access research materials faster than you can mutter Google, we can connect with other writers via Twitter and complain about all the work we’re not doing, we can save money on query letters with the advent of email, and we can read purchase almost any book with a few mouse clicks; on the other hand, we can waste oodles of time on social media sites and reading Lists of The Cutest Quokas.

But perhaps most significantly, we can blog. WordPress recently alerted me that I had been blogging on Word Salad for four years, and while I’ve experienced an extreme downtown in readership, I have continued to write about the writing life, about movies, about my travels, and at times about cats. There exists a special danger to blogging—over-sharing. At what point does the humorous confessional become the admittance to childish activities? I have been reading writers’ blogs for many years, especially those with whom I am contemporaries, and there exists a trend of sharing what could be potentially harmful to the writer or to the writer’s acquaintance.

Of course, some stories shared on the internet could be shared for the sake of hilarity. Sexual encounters, drug use, and petty theft have become a hot topic for blog-writers. But if one writes these essays, these articles, and these blogs with the hope of one day becoming a writer and then fails to become a writer, where does that place the context of what the writer has written? What will future employers think while reading about you at age seventeen, stealing cigarettes from the gas station?

Maybe there are actions the Internet should not know about, spurring articles like 10 Disgusting Habits I Formed While Living on My Own, The True Reason I Will Never Find Intimate Love Is That I’m Selfish, or Seventeen Slurs Not to Call Someone Interviewing You for a Job. Maybe file these under, things the world should never hear; or maybe file them under, The Internet Is a Great Therapist But Only Until Trolls Begin Berating You and Sending Death Threats.

To write about oneself is a balancing act. While we want audiences to believe we are relatable, that we are human, we wish also not to come across as unemployable.

The true question to pose: am I writing for an audience at all or only for myself? Am I writing to entertain or to create “buzz?” And if I take the focus away from myself, if I reject the paradigm of the Me Generation, if I abandon the internet in hopes of writing “pure prose” and “technologically-unadulterated poetry,” then why am I writing in the first place?

There must exist a love of self or at least an analysis of self (which is an important step toward love-of-self) before a writer may write about themselves. This isn’t a memoir. It’s a blog. This isn’t a bookstore or a job interview. It’s the Internet. The anarchic no-rules-ever, blog-with-aesthetic Internet. If you didn’t come to read about someone talking about themselves, why are you even here?

Privacy? We May Need It, but No One Wants It

Facebook, over the course of its existence, has changed many times its privacy settings. Some people limit everyone from seeing pictures on his profile and some allow anyone to see all info. In fact, privacy settings are very rarely used by Facebook users under the age of 25. Middle aged users tend to use privacy settings more prudently. We teenagers, we allow anyone to see what music we like, what books we like, and what celebrities we admire but get offending when someone “stalks” us.

It annoys me that some people will say they have read my blog or seen a picture, then apologize for “stalking.” If we were really a generation afraid of unwanted attention, we wouldn’t have Facebooks, tumblrs, and Youtube accounts. We would not recklessly share our inner lives with a computer screen.

No, we don’t mind that anyone may be stalking us because it stokes our ego. We feel better that someone is paying attention; who cares how creepy it seems? If all info is available, all info is free-game. No one is a creeper or stalker for looking at another’s profile, just worshipers of a single ego.

There is a voyeuristic pleasure we receive with allowing others to see into our “inner selves.” What we portray on social-networking sites like Facebook, however, we can manipulate. We can make ourselves appear exactly how we want to appear. A moralistic Christian? Post Bible verses all day and list Jesus as an inspiring figure. You don’t even need to go to Church. Want to be seen a stoner? Why not simply like “weed” on Facebook? It won’t even matter that you don’t smoke as long as you perpetuate a certain image. And we enjoy intensely luring others into believing they’re learning our deep, dark secrets when we have shaped those secrets meticulously.

Teens are like D-list celebrities who complain about the paparazzi, then wear sheer shirts onto the red carpet so pictures of their nipples end up on the internet. We love that attention. Attention is the new love. Facebook is the perfect mirror to preen in, making ourselves into what psychologist Maslow would call our “self-realized selves.” We’ve reached a stage where we can lie without making any facial expressions because words on the web give no social cues. On the internet, we can create new identities.

We’ve seen this time and time again where some fourteen-year-old girl meets her internet boyfriend for the first time at Target only to be kidnapped by Buffalo Bill. But creepy skin-wearers aren’t the only ones who reform their identities via the internet. We do it too. Facebook merely is a better tool to facilitate how we get others to perceive us. Back in the day, we would subscribe to certain stereotypes, then dress in a certain manner. Today, we’re allowed far more uniqueness to express ourselves through what the pins on our Pinterest boards say.

The internet offers the perfect fantasy. A social illusion, where you are the all-important person. Any person following your blog does not simply appreciate your insights but is a “creeper” obsessed with you. Aren’t we all in love with that idea, that celebrity status where people check Twitter just to see whenever you poop in public?

Earlier today, I worked very minimally to post a blog about The Avengers. I am really excited for The Avengers and definitely want people to know how much of a comics book geek I’ve become (especially superheroes), but it was for that reason I wrote the post. That, and because Avengers is such a popular search item currently, I figured it would boost my view count. Does that not just shout megalomania, Tony-Stark-style? I didn’t feel passionate about revealing my thoughts; I was too tired to write and forced myself to just because I hadn’t for two days. We’re all on the internet like it’s some high school party, keeping up appearances.
Obviously, I’m not immune. I’m consumed, sucked in, and obsessed. I crave attention as well and am as self-centered as Superman if he hadn’t found Earth and had instead floating in space his entire life thinking he was the only living organism in the universe. Of course it affects me. That’s the nature of the beast call ego-centrism. When my psychology teacher inferred it passed after adolescence, I wanted to laugh. Our generation may never grow out of this, never stop fueling our own need for obsession and rejection of privacy in return for new-age love.

No need to stop feeding the ravenous machine that is Derek Berry’s ego, so comment and like and view this post sixty times to give me delusions of internet-grandeur. Just giving you something to think about.

Internet Trends Are No Reason to Be an Idiot: #YOLO

“Oh, that’s a very funny status my friend– I mean, that person who happens to be in my chemistry class but I’ve never talked to before– posted. Maybe I should leave an equally funny comment, or…. I could un-originally post a *rageface* because LOL, YOLO!”

Memes, internet fads, and pictures of f**king cats: I hate them all. But if you want to Brace Yourself for being Forever Alone because like a pretentious Willy Wonka, you post so many captioned pictures that it becomes a First World Problem, that’s your business. Maybe. I honestly don’t understand the obsession, and I also hate memes’ torture of decent grammar.

“Hey guys, I heard this really funny joke, so I’m going to apply it to everything in life until people want to stab my in the eyes.”

For those who live in nursing homes or under rocks... this is a meme. They are annoying.
Photo credit: http://nuevosmemes.tk/scene-wolf-11/

I really hope it’s just a teen thing. What if pretty soon, you’re grandmother joins in until life is nothing more than Awkward Penguins and spitting your cereal out each time something incredulous occurs? But if I can stand not to implode the world over idiotic internet trends, there is one thing I cannot allow to continue. A motto for poorly-clad, soon-to-be-pregnant preteens: YOLO.

These four letters sprang up all over Twitter and Facebook within a matter of days and continue to trend. Admirably, people take the advice far too seriously.

The phrase “You Only Live Once” has been around for quite some time, meaning “Hey, don’t give up on your dreams because you’re pretty much going to die.” But then again, maybe YOLO isn’t the best philosophy in life. If you spend your life thinking of things to do simply because one day you will die and, unlike zombies, will never be re-animated, you must spend your life making very poor decisions. Just because you live only once is no excuse to do the following things:

– Inject heroin into your veins

– Post naked pictures of yourself on the internet

– Run in front of my car at BI-LO screaming “YOLO” (I will hit you, you crazy crackhead middle schoolers)

– Get admittedly-funny-now-while-we’re-drunk-but-not-even-close-to-funny-later tattoos, such as having YOLO written across your forehead. As if you need to proclaim your idiocy more efficiently to the world.

– Take sixteen shots of tequila in a row

– Have a foursome (What’s a condom? Who cares!? YOLO!)

We take something seemingly normal to say and turn it into an internet trend, but you don’t expect it to wear out and seem stupid after awhile? Once anything hits the internet, it’s ruined, worn out, beaten like crazy until it’s dead, then raised from the dead, then shot in the head because that’s how you kill zombies. I’m not trying say that YOLO is always bad advice, but I’m not sure that everyone understands what it actually means.

“Didn’t do my homework. #YOLO”

Oh, so you blame the fact that you’re a lazy procrastinator on the fact you only live once? Great. You live such an adventurous life. I’m sure you used that time wisely, ogling over pictures of One Direction band members on Tumblr.

YOLO cannot be a motto for living wild, because really it’s just an excuse- something to say- to justify your own stupidity. By saying “YOLO,” people try to make it okay to make bad decisions. When was it ever good to make bad decisions? But I guess when the greatest advice in your life is the advice you get from a Drake song, you already have some serious issues.

If you want to save the world from water pollution because #YOLO, good for you. If you want to snort cocaine off the rim of a toilet because… #YOLO, well… It’s annoying and pretentious. By even using that phrase, you advertise your own lack of development in your frontal lobe. In a court of law, you cannot be freed merely because #YOLO.

Seriously. Stop it.

Have an idea? How about use your words (not pictures someone else drew and used a caption under) to express how you feel?

And if you want to do something stupid, do it because it’s stupid, not because it will give some false vilification that your life was worth living.

Photo Credit: http://www.funnyreign.com/funny-pictures/bad-decisions/

6 Most Annoying Facebook Status Updates

The worse-than-attention-whores attention whore status

Like if you breathe air!

Really? You’re so desperate for people to “like” your status and in extension prove your escalation on the socio-popularity scale that you’ve given up putting pictures of your cleavage as your profile picture and instead have resorted to this. This “like if…” disease has spread from Youtube to Twitter to Facebook and even to the comment sections of some blogs. No matter where I see it, it is annoying. It is a strange cry for help, crying for people to show other people how many people LOVE YOU “IF YOU LIKE MY STATUS.” Sorry, but just because someone likes your status doesn’t mean anyone really likes YOU.

The Genius Friend Hackers’ Status

OMG, you totally got hacked!!!!! Because you left your computer open!

Your friend left his computer on with you in the room, so that gives you free reign to go to Facebook.com where doubtless your friend never logs out from. Then, you can claim to have “hacked” them by leaving an obviously dumb status on their profiles. Your hacking skills are simply superb, you wondrous computer whiz you! Right up there with Lisbeth Salander. I bet you could hack into the Pentagon, or at least their Facebook page in the event they never log out and leave you, their wholly untrustworthy friend, alone in a room with their laptop.

The Passive Aggressive Status

Someone really is such a jerk. Really, I’m not trying to talk about anyone in particular here, but sometimes, people are so mean, especially people whose names rhyme with Penneth and start with same letter that word “Kangaroo” starts with. Not that I’m pointing any fingers. But some people are just jerks!

If you have a problem with someone, especially a significant other, confront them about it. Maybe if you actually talked about your problems with the person with whom you have problems, those problems could be resolved in a normal way. You, however, have chosen to leap to the interwebs to bash that person’s honor for all your friends, relatives, and knitting club members to see. Wow. Well, you really got that guy! I bet, seeing this, he really decided to change his ways. Jerks worldwide must have realized how much of a jerk each was being upon reading your inspirational words.

The Chain-Letter Status

If you are reading, do not stop because if you do, you will die. Tonight at midnight a hobo clown with acne will somehow appear in your room and eat your liver while you’re still alive. And then he will make you listen to Kreayshawn, undoubtedly the worst female rapper since Nikki Minaj and somehow even worse. Then he will dance to it. If you wish to escape this fate, post this as your status and annoy the hell out of your friends because they will see Kreayshawn mentioned again, and again, and again. You have until midnight.

I believe I have said enough.

There’s a FOOTBALL game on! Status

My team is better than whatever gay, stupid team they’re against. Dear stupid fans of opposing team, you must have a seriously horrible life based on your decision to support that particular team that my sports team is playing against, though one week from now I will be updating about how loser-idiot-like the refs are for making my team lose.

Oh, and….. TOUCHDOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!! SUCK IT!

I literally want to strangle everyone who does this. If you’re so passionate, why are you on Facebook? Put your Blackberry away and pay attention to the game.

Romeo’s status update

I love you, insert vomit-inducing pet name here.

Maybe you can tag that you’re in Verona while writing this status, but soon I swear you’ll be posting from your casket. This is horribly stupid and unnecessary. If you love someone, tell them. But bellowing it from the proverbial housetop of your profile page is just pathetic. It gets worse when you start wall-posting each other the way most couples might chat. If you have that much to say to each other, why not go on an actual date so you can actualize the love that you feel so compelled to spread over the cyberweb. And if I think that’s bad, I certainly can’t wait for next week when you two star-crossed idiots break up.

The “I’m not too update to drunk my status” status

Js Gut hoom. Lst nite wuz totlly crazy, brah. Still so wsted… flasblas

Oh, you’re drunk? That’s nice. You’re so drunk from partying last night that you came home, opened your laptop, typed “Facebook.com” into the URL. Then you signed onto your Facebook account somehow correctly spelling your e-mail account jersyshorefan00404@gmail.com right on one try. Then, you typed this status with gangster grammar, which no one can understand. Instead, how about going to sleep until 2 o’ clock in the afternoon so that tomorrow you can wake back up right in time for your afternoon shift at the gas station.

When Robots Rule the School

{A column written for Aiken High’s Hornet Herald. If you missed it or do not attend Aiken High, you can read it here.}

Movie buffs may remember Arnold Schwarzenegger teaching phonics in Kindergarten Cop, but rarely does one imagine his Terminator character as an educational instructor. A future exists where this is a reality.

Under his robotic tenure, the classroom is silent because the classroom is not physical; students interact across internet highways. After the imminent robot apocalypse, all classrooms will suffer this fate. But it’s not all science fiction. We are approaching that version of the future.

Recently, taking online classes has become a more integral part of a typical high school education. This summer, while taking a P.E. class through Virtual School, I pondered how technology might continue to change how students learn.

It seems advantageous and time-efficient to attend school on computers. The more we depend on technology, however, the further we risk not only a loss of personalization, but also a brutal robot uprising.

While I’m positive thatVirtualSchool’s firewall successfully blocks viruses, what if the school of the future includes pop-ups? A freshman of the future attempts to review his geography notes, but instead be offered a low mortgage rate and a discounted prescription of Viagra.

In the school of the future, schools could sell ads in the margins of English quizzes. Students could learn how polymers form and also where to meet hot singles in their area.

As far as I know, the teacher of my online class could have been a sentinel robot or a computer programmed to send generalized, automatic responses to the students’ queries. In the school of the future, human teachers might be eliminated, and tests could be created by outsourced companies in Russia, India, or Lithuania.

If robots control our education, how long will it take for them to realize their power to corrupt the minds ofAmerica’s children? Robots could teach children that 2 + 2=5, that George Washington was un-American, and that Cheetos are actually good for us. The school of the future might inspire a robot apocalypse:  first we give computers the capacity to teach, and then they learn to use guns and kill us all.

With the advance of technology in schools, we must face more immediate, if not deadly, consequences. We lose a very important student-teacher relationship if we rely so much on computers. When students need extra help on something learned in class, the school of the future will redirect the troubled student to another website, possibly the Wikipedia page for “Calculus.”

At the school of the future, students might read in their history books about pens and pencils and Sharpie markers, the sorts of writing utensils past generations used. At the school of the future, classrooms could simply be closed groups on Facebook. At the school of the future, students can come in too-short shorts or spaghetti straps or simply come naked because the classroom is a bedroom. At the school of the future, students might not need to understand the concepts as long as they click the right buttons. At the school of the future, students can text in class without getting caught.

If students learn only what textbooks can teach, they miss a major part of their education. I hope the school of the future will not simply teach us what to think, when it should teach us how to think.

Poem: I Like You (on Facebook)

In the midst of status chain-letters

and youtube videos of cats who can pogo

I found you

And I like you

I like you SO much, I spent the whole weekend

“liking” all of your posts since last April

Obviously, you’re beautiful

I told you so via comments on all

six hundred pictures in your albums

and would you be offended

if I said your profile pic is perfect

You should take more photos of yourself

in the bathroom mirror

Our fathers had Playboy magazine centerfolds

the name Cassandra boldly typed

across her breasts

The best we have is Facebook

and every picture of you in a bikini, ever

Facebook is suddenly the house

where we partied until our parents arrived

to show our friends pictures of us

as children– usually naked

But I found you

And we’re basically soul mates

though according to your INFO

you prefer Free Willy II

and I Free Willy III, so sure,

that negates perfection

but we can make it work out if ever

I muster up the courage to talk to you

in real life

I like you (on Facebook)

I’d repost you until my fingers

cramp from mouse-clicks

I’d link my page to your profile

through the URL’s of our hearts

I will be your internet bookmark

if you will be my Facebook centerfold

What are your thoughts on Facebook crushes?

Observations Concerning the Internet

If you’re reading this right now, you can probably use the internet. But it’s a complicated place.

1.) If it were not for stupid people, we would have lost interest in the internet a long time ago.

2.) Here, it’s okay to muse about what it might be like if Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter and Spock from Star Trek staged a tryst through the wardrobe in Narnia. And it’s okay to post it on a website where other like-minded people will blog about it.

And if you ask me if I think this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard about on the internet… may I redirect you to the Tea Party’s homepage: http://www.teapartypatriots.org/

3.) The only difference between Facebook and a pornography website is that no one blogs complaints when a pornography site suddenly changes its layout. I’m not sure why.

4.) On the internet, cats are hilarious.

5.) Everything is either true or utterly ridiculous! Or moderately believable…

6.) The internet is like your best friend who presents you with almost too much information as once, but never bothers to answer what you have asked.

7.) This is what Google used to look like, fo serious: http://web.archive.org/web/19981202230410/http://www.google.com/

8.) You can become “internet-famous,” which isn’t really famous, but close enough. Like when your uncle appeared on the news in an interview considering his triumph at the chitlin cooking competition.

9.) They sell anything over the internet. Seriously. Even beards. Really. And you can buy tamales $15 dollars for 12, but with a $30 dollars shipping/handling fee tacked on. Luckily though, they offer overnight shipping. Once, someone sold “the meaning of life” on Ebay. Sold for $10.50.

The internet, anyways, is a pretty strange place.

Facebook’s Dirty Secret

Using Facebook nowadays, I feel like an old woman dipping her toes into social-networking waters. Calling out to my son to ask how to comment and how to look at Aunt Judy’s new album of her new cat. In my me-as-old-woman fantasy, it’s a Siamese cat, and I get to use a Mac Book Air, but have no clue how to.

Since joining Facebook in 2006, I have survived through dozens of website design changes. The newest change literally puts a live-action news feed in the top-right corner of your already existing news feed. Soon, it will release the “Timeline” feature which will confuse me further. But why must Facebook make changes? Why are people up in arms about this? Simply, read on.

When I first joined, Facebook looked like this:

Now, it looks like this:

Soon, it will look like this:

So, what’s up with the changes? Well, a site like Facebook can’t afford to not evolve. With Google + as a new viable competitor, Facebook must……. oh, who am I kidding? Google + doesn’t stand a chance.

Sure, it will gain new users after the “change,” but really the change might help us. Now, I no longer have to spend hours of the day checking each person’s status to see what comments were left. Now, Facebook does that for me. So, do you need to stalk your ex or find out where the nearest party is? Well, it now requires absolutely no work.

Facebook repeatedly puts us all on the same level of clueless confusion. Once our parents and grandparents joined Facebook, our generation laughed at their ineptitude. But now we find ourselves… scrambling for answers.

No, Facebook! You’ve taken away our savvy, our only source of pride. Now we’re on the same level as our grandparents. We are old ladies using the internet for the first time.

Well, at least they haven’t figured out Google + yet.

So, maybe, this is a conspiracy to knock us down a level. I’m watching you, Zuckerburg. I’m watching…

Before the Internet

It was a dark and quiet night without the internet. Gathering all of our blankets, we huddled in the bath, rocking back and forth, anticipating the imminent demolition of earth. First, the phone lines cut off, then the internet. After that, we waited for the world to splinter apart. It was only a matter of time until yet another cataclysmic disaster struck.

Bulldozing through our backyard to lay down another electrical line, “the company that shall not be named but rhymes with AB&B) cut our phone line, which supplies not only the house phone but the internet. (The beloved internet, may it rest in peace.) Right now, we are still safe from the apocalypse, and I write this hunched over in the back of the library nonfiction section. After learning the news, my chief concern was, “Who’re we going to call?” Before anyone broke out into the Ghost Buster’s theme, we called “The Company.”

Six days, they said, before we can reach you to fix the problem. SIX DAYS? Without the internet? But… where will I get my LOL fix? Can I start hash-tagging everything I say in real life? Will I actually have to watch TELEVISION to catch up on all my favorite shows? And then there’s the question of what I’ll do while in the loo. I mean, will I just have to settle with Entertainment Weekly or Times (and I don’t mean the Ipad App versions).

This extremely horrifying ordeal has struck me with a question: what did people do before the internet? Maybe if you’re reading this blog and are even only slightly older than me, you know the answer to this, but I don’t remember a time when there wasn’t an internet.

One pro of being internet-free is that I get a lot more work done (you know, on that novel… THAT one, yes). Every time I minimized Word to check my e-mail or browse Facebook, I was met with “No connection found.” So I kept working and working…

Sure, the internet is a wonderful tool of boundless information and also boundless misinformation. But it distracts from what we do in our everyday lives. Maybe research papers might not take hours to write if I didn’t use PDF texts rather than paper texts as sources. My mother, suddenly cut off from her virtual farm on Farmville, began scrapbooking rabidly (something she hasn’t done in years.)

The truth I’ve found is: beyond this digital world is in fact an entirely different world, one that involves reading books not on screens, but in print. Cleaning and actually finishing homework assignments. Did you know that beyond Netflix, they also show films at these extremely large complexes called “theaters.” Instead of squinting at my tiny laptop screen, I can sit back and watch movies on these immense, colorful screens—sound blasting through the walls. You find wonderful things outside of the Internet.

I’m not saying the Internet is useless, because it’s probably the most revolutionary innovation that man has put forth in fifty years. It changes how we interact and locate information and keep tabs on our tax returns and buy new running shoes. It also changes how we use our time.

In my late teens, I’m what is called “plugged-in.” Everything I do requires the internet. Need to contact me? Facebook me, e-mail me, tweet me, check out my blog. Who needs a business card when you have a website URL? But even my generation did not exactly “grow up” on the internet. We were slowly introduced to it as it sped up, from dial-up to satellite. One day we’ll get to say to our kids, “I remember when it took ten minutes to get to another webpage.” When I was a child, we played outside. And maybe that will be a constant pastime for children. Maybe not.

How will the generation who spent elementary school playing Angry Birds instead of dodge ball shape the world? Learning how to text long before learning the multiplication tables?

The Internet is a beautiful, useful tool, but what we use it for may be devastating.