My first memory of using a computer was in the second grade; it was computer lab day, and my class was taking our very first typing test. I was nervous, yet hopeful that I would have a successful debut into the world of technology. But, alas, I vividly recall getting the lowest score in my class, coming home crying to my parents, and informing them that I was never going to be able to correctly use the computer. To this day, I believe it was this occurrence that kickstarted my complicated relationship with the digital world.
Once the wounds of the typing test healed and I became a bit older, I began using my family’s first home computer: an old-school HP PC. During my later elementary/early middle school days, I exclusively used Paint and played computer games like Minesweeper, pinball, and Solitaire. Though I continued playing computer games (of a more advanced degree, like Zoo Tycoon), my later middle school days were filled with time spent on AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) – my first step into the world of online social interaction.
But I’ve always been a bit behind the curve when it comes to the online world. I was the last of my friends to create a MySpace, and once I finally created one in the eighth grade, it seemed like everyone had already made the transition to Facebook. Stubborn and frustrated, I refused to make a Facebook until I was a junior in high school (and I only did so because my friends insisted). I also clung to the wonder that is Yahoo mail, having not made a gmail until my sophomore year in college. And, although I do have Instagram, I refuse to ever make a Twitter account. Though my social media incompetence has obviously never affected my school life academically, I certainly was and continue to be uninformed on the latest and greatest school gossip.
Today, I use the Internet mainly for reading news articles and listening to music. I almost exclusively use English online, with the exception of using Google Translate or to speak with foreign friends. While my laptop is utilized for Netflix, email, and academic work, my (limited) social media use is done almost entirely on my phone. I’ve never been very worried about the information or pictures posted of me online, although I’m aware that big tech companies technically own such information. And despite the presence of hackers, fraud, and America’s deep distrust of the Internet, I never think twice about putting my credit card information online or monitoring my emails/messages (perhaps something I should reconsider). As a senior applying for full-time jobs, however, I’m a bit more wary about what’s on my social media pages. In this manner, I suppose corporate America standards of an acceptable employee “limit” my expression online.
In general, I’ve always been reluctant about new apps and improved technologies, mostly because I romanticize the days when face-to-face interaction, rather than superficial Internet conversation, was the norm. Now, I almost never post on social media sites. My pages are composed exclusively of pictures and posts that I’ve been tagged in by friends. There’s something about our generation’s constant obsession with sharing every moment and thought with the online world that, to a degree, frustrates me. I think it all relates back to a conversation I had with my grandpa that stuck with me, where he quoted Albert Einstein: “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”
But, to complicate my frustrations a bit more, I should recognize that my perspective is perhaps a privileged one. The Internet, for many, does serve as an outlet, a community. I’m lucky enough to have close relationships with friends and family, and so I don’t seek an outside form of belonging; yet, I recognize that for some, an “Internet family” is an incredibly important aspect of their lives. And, although I’m not much of an active participant in online campaigning or activism (aside from the articles and videos I share regarding controversial events/topics and news), I can appreciate the fact that the Internet serves as a crucial platform for certain historically-silenced issues to be brought to the forefront. And so, aside from certain social media irritations, I greatly appreciate the unending, open source of knowledge, community, and discussion that the Internet provides.
“AIM Screenshot.” 2014. JPG file.
“Albert Einstein quote Screenshot.” 2014. JPG file.
“Minesweeper Screenshot.” 2009. JPG file.
“Jon Stewart Goes After Fox in Powerful Ferguson Monologue.” YouTube, 27 Aug. 2014. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.
Rhodan, Maya. “Nearly 5 Million Google Passwords Leaked on Russian Site”. TIME, 10 Sept. 2014. Web. 14 Sept. 2014. http://time.com/3318853/google-user-logins-bitcoin/.