I have been using computers for almost as long as I can remember. From the day I stepped foot in elementary school, I can recall the integration of computers into my education. My earliest recollection of what was called “computer class” that I can remember was in 2nd grade, which made me about seven or eight years old. I explicitly remember walking to “computer class” every other day or so. In this class we would engage with all aspects of a computer, but one in particular that was probably the most common practice was using the application called Microsoft Word. This is when I really started to become familiar with the computer keyboard. In preparation for our weekly spelling tests, we would have to type out each of the 20 words that we were being tested on three times. Then, when I hit about 5th grade, which made me around the age of 11, my classmates and I were introduced to an actual “typing class.” In this class, we were taught how to properly use a keyboard. Instead of “pecking and hunting” for each letter, we were taught the proper way of typing. One of the most common tools we used in class was an orange rubber cover that our teacher referred to as “keyboard skins.” These skins served the purpose of covering up all of the buttons on the keyboard so that we would be forced to memorize the letter placement on the keyboard.
An exact replica of a “keyboard skin” that my classmates and I used in 5th grade
Elementary school was the first place I was exposed to computers, but I would say that I really became attracted to them when my parents bought my brother and I our very own computers as a Christmas present. I was probably around the age of nine years old during this time. I remember being glued to the computer playing games with my brother for hours on end. Playing video games such as The Sims and Need for Speed were two of my all time favorites. Computer games were the modern day video games such as X-Box and Play Station, and we all know how much young adolescents love video games these days.
Although this video is a more modern example, it is similar to the version I played as a young boy.
As I matriculated into middle school though, I began to use the computer and its online resources as a social outlet or escape. AOL instant messenger, otherwise known as AIM, was a big hitter in my middle school days. Since middle school is typically a time when adolescents become interested in the opposite sex, AIM was used as a tool to help young people connect with each other in a different way. Often times during the early adolescent stages, young males and females are shy to express some of their true feelings. But with the invention and usage of AIM one could hide behind a computer screen and take the possible rejection process a little bit easier than in person or over the telephone. Thus, everyone had a screen name and my classmates and I would chat on the computer almost every evening after school. It was a way to keep up with gossip too, as it would often be the topics at the lunch tables the next day – “Did you hear that ‘blank’ really has a crush on ‘blank?’” I did not have texting during my middle school years, but I would venture to compare AIM to modern-day texting for young people. However, the only difference between the two is that when using AIM each person had to be “online,” otherwise the message would not go through.
AIM was definitely my first online social resource, but it was sure not my last. I eventually got a MySpace when I was in 7th grade, and then a Facebook during my sophomore year in high school. Although one could argue that there are many differences between these two social networks, they are really alike in many ways, and were used for many of the same reasons. I eventually fully moved over to Facebook and deleted my MySpace as there was no need for it anymore. Facebook dominated social networking during my high school years, and I have definitely used it for many of the same reasons that other people used it for.
Today though, I am pretty absent from Facebook compared to most people. I still have an account because it can be used as a good tool to keep up with people (such as old friends) and things that are happening around us in the world. However, I refrain from posting pretty much anything on it. Typically the only updates my Facebook profile receives is if someone tags me in a picture. I use Facebook as a hobby to keep up with the world around me, kind of like reading the newspaper, but I am by no means obsessed with it like many other people. In addition to Facebook, I have downloaded Twitter during my college years, but deleted it within that same year. I generally refrain from using any other social media networks simply because I find it very exposing of my privacy. I like to have my privacy and I want to keep it that way. Downloading every new social media app definitely does not help me achieve these wishes.
This video elaborates on some of the reasons behind my concerns regarding privacy in the digital world.
One last thing that I think is worth mentioning is that during this entire computer/internet endeavor, I think I have taken for granted that I did not have a language barrier at any point in this process. After reading some of the digital autobiographies from the students in Denmark, many of them cannot say the same, and for that I am very grateful, as my experience with the digital world could have been much harder.
“Facebook Privacy Concerns.” Youtube. Youtube, 27 September 2011. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.
“SimCity 5 Official Announcement Trailer.” Youtube. Youtube, 6 March 2012. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.
“WordPress Screenshot.” 2014. JPG file.