On April 21, 1996 our family gathered in the kitchen around a brand new Acer computer and logged in to the Internet for the first time. We didn’t understand what that meant, then or now.
It was important to our daughter’s education to have home access to information via the World Wide Web. Important enough to spend about three week’s take-home pay on a computer, and pay $25 per month for dial-up service. I had used email at the oil company in 1990, and understood the web’s ability to connect people in far away places. I wanted our daughter to have that.
I had no idea how much Internet access would change our lives, and 20 years later still don’t.
There are obvious effects: communicating with people from past lives; reducing television viewing to almost zero; providing the ability to work from home; and importantly, creating a venue for self expression and creative work.
On most days, I don’t like a lot of what I see and hear when logging in. However, I now rely on the Internet in ways I didn’t before. Particularly important is the ability to connect with different groups of people on multiple platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but also WordPress, Blogger, Feedly, Flipboard, YouTube, Skype and mail groups. I got started on email, and it has been the bread and butter of my Internet presence.
Here are some ways logging in changed my life.
- Access to certain kinds of news and information is more immediate. By following corporate media, governmental bodies and key public figures, access to their formal news is available as soon as we log in. There is an inherent bias, but I can’t imagine waiting until radio, television or newspapers report the news any more now that it is on line.
- I’ve become more open to sharing things about myself. Albeit I don’t tell secrets and personal stuff, I haven’t minded posting my ideas in a multitude of places on the Internet. By doing so, my personality has changed for the better, at least I think so.
- Working with people on a project is easier. While longing for in-person relationships, the Internet has enabled keeping many conversation threads going at the same time. My life has been richer for that, and more productive.
- It became possible to earn income using the Internet. Consulting and writing have both been facilitated. I’ve also made a bit of money by selling on eBay.
- Family relationships took on a new dimension. While the touch and presence of family members can’t be replaced, the Internet bridges the distance when we are apart. Simple things like sharing calendars and social media have helped me get by when visiting in person is not possible.
- Shopping changed forever. Amazon.com changed how I shop for books in a way that still has a wake. The selection grew exponentially and the price doesn’t seem too high. The same holds true with retailers like J.C. Penney where I buy the same types of socks, shirts and slacks over and over. No need to be subject to local store manager peccadilloes.
- No idle time, less isolation. Access to the Internet can engage us in positive ways, especially if we keep a constructive attitude. As long as there is an Internet connection, there is little reason to feel isolated, even if one lives in the rural part of the state as we do.
- Access to Weather Information. This almost goes without saying, but access to current weather conditions has made life better. The quality of hourly forecasts has improved, and one can plan the day around them.