The bright colors on the screen danced before my eyes as if controlled by magic, the small cursor I struggled to control flitting from one character to another in the interactive video game I was playing. I was not more than six years old then, but I can still remember the first time I ever used a computer. My parents had just purchased the newest and most advanced system we could buy at the time, which honestly isn’t much by our standards today, but as I watched the pixels on the screen respond to the slight touch of my fingertips, I became more and more enamored by the wonderful technology that had just entered my life. Very soon it wasn’t just video games that captured my attention – it was the Internet. However, the Internet I was so excited to use when I was in grade school was nothing more than just the bare bones of what we take for granted in our modern society. Connecting to the Web back then was a tedious process, one that took more than just a few seconds. I still remember the horrible screeching sound our old, AOL dial-up service would emit as it fought its way onto the World Wide Web. And even when we were finally connected, the slow, idling internet service we paid for came at the price of our phone lines. Of course, it was all worth it in the end, even the fact that we were forced to use Internet Explorer. From looking up pictures for my elementary school projects to finding new video games to try out, everything about the Internet revolutionized how I saw the world. Since then, I have grown even more attached to computers and all of the online capabilities that these ever shrinking and ever more-portable devices can do, but I don’t see this attachment as a crutch. We live in the digital world of the 21st century, and I am happy to be a part of it all, from its humble beginnings to wherever it may take us.
Today, the Internet is more than just a place we can find pictures for school projects or video games to pass the time. It has become, for better or worse, the main avenue in which we can socialize with one another. I first started out depending on email to contact my friends, writing out the long messages online somehow more exciting than just calling them with a phone. However, before I knew it, even emailing became a thing of the past, at least for casual conversation. What took over was an enormous collection of different social media tools, ranging from AOL Instant Messenger or AIM to GoogleTalk or “gtalk.” I remember spending hours on my computer typing furiously into multiple, different chat-boxes, each one “pinging” away as my friends responded. It was also then that I used “emoticons” for the first time and learned how to shorthand basic, English words to make them even easier to spell out. By the time I had reached middle school, I was already hopelessly addicted to social media, but little did I know that just a few years later in high school, a small, start-up company would revamp how I would see the Internet once again. Facebook and all of its novel applications hit the ground running with everyone I knew. People who had never touched social media before were getting their own sites and for once in our time, even “adults” relented and jumped on the bandwagon. When I discovered that the majority of my own high school teachers had Facebooks of their own, I knew this new social media craze was here to stay – and it definitely has.
For many, the Internet has grown into more than just a fun addition to their lives – it has become their identity both out of convenience and ease. In fact, these individuals choose to place their personal information online so that access to various accounts, numbers, and addresses are constantly at their fingertips. For me, although I recognize the many benefits of doing the same, I personally am not willing to risk the security of my information for the ease of access; due to this reason, very little of my personal identity is stored online, especially because no one can ever be entirely sure who views or even owns the data on the Web. As such, out of fear of identity theft and potential invasions of privacy, two prevalent issues detailed by Michael Kranish of The Boston Globe, I keep a conscious handle on my use of the Internet (Kranish, “IRS is Overwhelmed by Identity Theft Fraud”).
But this doesn’t mean I resent what the Web can offer. Every year, technology takes countless steps forward into the future, and no matter how we as consumers decide to use what is available to us, the Internet, computers, and other digital devices will forever serve a prominent – and valuable – role in our lives.
Kranish, Michael. “IRS is Overwhelmed by Identity Theft Fraud: Billions Wrongly Paid out as Scammers Find Agency an Easy Target.” Boston Globe [Boston, MA] 16 Feb. 2014: n. pag. Print.
Kumar, Ramesh. “Instant Messaging Software: Which One is the Best?” FindASoft. FindASoft, 28 Apr. 2013. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <http://findasoft.com/instant-messaging-software-which-one-is-best/>.
RetroHead92. AOL (Sign on – Dial Up). YouTube. YouTube, 18 July 2012. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1UY7eDRXrs>.
Barlow, Jennifer, and Nancy Ozawa. “More than 12 Million Identity Fraud Victims in 2012 According to Latest Javelin Strategy and Research Report.” Javelin Strategy and Research: Strategic Insights into Customer Transactions. Greenwich Associates, 20 Feb. 2013. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <https://www.javelinstrategy.com/news/1387/58/More-Than-12-Million-Identity-Fraud-Victims-in-2012-According-to-Latest-Javelin-Strategy-Research-Report/d,pressRoomDetail>.