It is not often that I take a moment to think back on my childhood, and it is even less often that I think back wondering how it was I managed to survive without a strong, fast connection to the internet. It was not always the place where we went to find the million cat memes, cat YouTube videos and cat Instagram accounts.
These days I cannot live without it. All my assignments (bar a couple) have to be submitted online. I am instructed to participate with Facebook pages, twitter users and the blogs of other students. I access all the information I requite from the lounge at home. And yet. There was a time where I would travel into uni to borrow the books I needed to complete reports, or I would sit and write out the notes, by hand, from the pages so I could look at them later. To be honest looking back, I remember these days with fondness, the peace and quiet of reading these books. Something I do not do enough of now.
While reminiscing I decided to ask my mother, again, about what her memories were of a time before the internet. Considering how savvy she has now become, even surpassing me with twitter followers in the few months she has been connected compared to me (I’ve been on it a year!), it is hard to remember a time when she did not know how to find her way around the world wide web.
Like me, she remembered having to go into a library to get the information she needed for homework. Finding encyclopedias and other books. Instead of Facebooking or Twitter messages, she would write long letters to her friends, visit them on a regular basis or phone them when they wanted to catch up. Mum remembers the day that she first gained access to the internet with both excitement and nerves. The task of learning how to use this new technology quite daunting. The main things she remembers using it for being email, and simply searching for information (which was a lot easier than having to find books at the library).
As for how she uses the internet now, like me, she admits that she is slightly addicted. She uses Twitter every day, enjoying how much it has opened her up to conversations with so many people (again she has double the number of followers!! Damn you mother). She also uses the internet to make Skype calls, access Ebay, Etsy and other online shopping. Connecting with friends has mainly been through email, and finding information is even easier than it was when she first gained access to the internet. Because she has become so addicted/dependent on the internet, she admits that to lose connection is beyond frustrating. Similar to if she was to lose access to the phone or TV.
While having a connection now to the net has opened up a world of new possibilities, pop up adds when you’re trying to read something, Trolls and not always being able to work out issues (lost passwords/unable to gain access to accounts) can make it a little frustrating.
Her new found love of Twitter has meant she has now made a lot more “friends” which brings back fond memories of having a pen pal, but it is slightly faster to get a response. In fact, Twitter takes up a lot of her time these days when it comes to her time spent on the internet.
We are now forever connected to the internet. We carry it around with use where ever we go. The accessibility these days has not only changed what we do, it has changed who we are. Some of the things we do now with our devices are things that, only a few years ago, we would have found odd or disturbing, but they’ve quickly come to seem familiar, just how we do things. (Turkle, 2012)
Turkle, S 2012,Connected but alone?, Viewed 22 August 2016, < http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together/transcript>