I find the internet a strange place and recently I’ve devoted a fair amount of time to understanding my interactions with it.
A few nights ago a friend and I were reminiscing about how much has changed in just a decade. 10 years ago I moved into my first house and signed up with the Brand New Talk Talk company for broadband. It was incredibly exciting, broadband was still on the newer side and they were going to give it to me for free!
(If anyone else remembers when Talk Talk first started and the huge farce they made with that ‘offer’ then you’ll possibly remember the frustration.)
It didn’t happen, not for months and months. Actually, if I remember correctly we just cancelled with them, eventually, and signed up with Orange, I think. But! My point is this:
We had no internet hooked up to the house for months and it was fine! It was, okay even, I can’t really say it had any major impacts on my life. Sure, looking back and listening to friends who are now a lot more internet savvy than I, it probably would have helped, but at that time in my life, in many of our lives, the internet was irrelevant.
Can you imagine? This happened to me and I can barely believe it. I mean, I remember going to the internet cafe every so often to check emails…well, mostly Myspace messages, but that was about it.
No Facebook. No Twitter. No Instagram. No Gmail. No WordPress.
These things that take up so much of my in between moments were non-existent.
This got me thinking…what is it that I do with the internet? If I got on well enough before it, why is it now such an indelible part of life? I mean, our Virgin fibre acts up for a day and I spend the majority of that day troubleshooting, calling Virgin and turning it on and off again while texting my partner to ask him what to do next!
We all surely know by now the revolution the internet brought to our societies, we can see how access to information is shaping new generations at a much faster rate than previously. But what about our daily lives? How much have they changed now that we have internet access permanently, conveniently, 24/7?
Friends were predominantly the people you lived near, went to work with, people who you’d have a drink with after work or go shopping in town with at the weekend. There were occasional long phone calls with out of town friends to catch up, and the odd night out as a sort of reunion if you were in the same city, but for the most part you have no real idea what was going on in each others lives.
I remember late night talks in bars about what we wanted to do with our lives, where we saw ourselves going, whether our manager having an affair with the IT guy or not. Of course, it was all speculation because without social media there was very little insight to be gained into a person you barely knew.
Friends can be spread across the world. You may still have your close friends near by but there is nothing stopping a close friendship continuing or even growing despite being separated by a vast body of water. We have Facebook and Skype/Facetime to thank for that. I have friends all across the world who at points I’ll miss greatly and wish we could catch up over a dinner but alas it’s not that simple.
Phone calls are almost non-existent with a lot of my generation and those coming. I still like talking, and I will have a landline call with family members, quick mobile calls to friends if I’m running late but driving (yay for in-car phone screen thing) but for the most part, very few people call.
My nights chatting to a friend over messenger outweigh the amount of time I spend in cafes or bars talking with that friend and it does upset me. I feel like it’s missing something.
I couldn’t have cared less really. I knew we had a labor government and that was about it. Obviously huge headlines like War, the Twin Towers, the economic crash of 09, I knew about. And smaller news stories you’d catch while reading the metro on the way to work or see on the TV News while waiting to be served, but very little.
American? Australian? South African? Russian news? Nope. Not a clue. They were all so…foreign.
You can’t escape it! After coming online and checking messages, my next step is checking articles friends have shared, or media hubs like Huffington Post, The Canary etc. To actively find out what is has happened in the (maybe) 14 hours since I last checked.
I care and have an opinion about: the American election, what message Australian Anti-Drug adverts are giving to young people, whether Russia is going to get on board to protect an ‘ocean’ which has so far managed to avoid being plundered and polluted.
I care and have an opinion about: Isis, Palestine and Israel, Syrian refugees, Chinese involvement in the amazon rainforests deforestation.
On top of: The Tories, The dismantling of our NHS, 17 schools closed in Edinburgh, Trident, Tax-havens.
I don’t know how my brain doesn’t explode.
Uhh…whatever they have in the shops? I spent a lot more time in shopping centres a decade ago. This was also coupled with friend-bonding, the surprise at finding that really unusual, perfect picture to hang in the sitting room, and a lot of sitting in the car on Saturday afternoons trying to get home in crazy traffic after visiting a shopping centre for christmas presents- which was filled with people losing their minds trying to find the right gifts.
I’m filled with much less sadness over this new way of living. After running round 8 different shops on a Saturday afternoon to try and find a Holdall for travelling next week, I found myself constantly wishing I hadn’t left it till the last minute and I could have got next day delivery.
Gosh, its far too easy. I can find pretty much anything I could want to buy online. Thanks to businesses having websites to buy from, amazon, eBay and etsy, never mind being able to shop from different countries. I get a box delivered every month from a French company called My Little Box, they are adorable, also there is an amazing French lingerie company which does amazing bras. And I don’t even need to go into Modcloth in America *swoon*
Furniture. Flights. Food. Frilly knickers. Everything.
There are so many before and after comparisons to make, we could be here all day.
I wonder if there has ever, other than wars, been a revolution quite so all consuming as personal internet usage.
Please share if there are any you’d like to add 😀