It was right around 1988. Maybe 1989. (This is gonna date me and I might live to regret it because then you might actually realize I'm in my "mid life". Or maybe you've already figured it out in which case I will tell you that in an effort to boost my own self-esteem I sometimes refer to myself as "geezerific", but it doesn't really work since the root word is "geezer". No matter how "rific" I really am.) I should start over.
It was right around 1988. Maybe 1989. I had been out of school for a few years, working, and decided out of the blue that I would go to college despite stunning statistics lobbed at me by my high school guidance counselor that said if I didn't do it right after graduation I'd likely never do it.
My response was something like, "You don't know me." Indeed, he didn't.
So here I am a 20-something college student feeling a little out of place. After getting used to the campus, the environment, the strangeness of being away from my hometown for the first time I started hanging out at the computer lab where I met a guy named Peter who I thought was really rude, unfriendly and had a terrible work ethic of which I didn't approve of... AT ALL. (Ironically, we ended up dating for much of the time I was in college and for quite a bit of time after. I was wrong about him being rude and unfriendly -- he was actually very shy. I was right, however, about the work ethic which is one of the things that helped hasten the end of the relationship.)
So, through Peter I ended up discovering the Internet. This was WAY back before blogging, back before web personal web pages, back before ANY web pages. This was back before there was a WEB. This was back before broadband, before cell phones. This was back before computers were owned by regular people. This was back when dinosaurs roamed the earth eating small children and dogs and men cooked over open fires. Okay, close, but not quite that far. My point is... this was back before any regular people knew about the Internet.
I fell deeply and madly in love with it. I would come home to visit my mom on the weekends and try to explain it to her. (Imagine going back in time to the 80's and explaining to people in the past about the Internet today.) I would tell her the marvels of logging into bulletin board systems and chatting with people. I would tell her about mailing lists where you could talk about interesting topics with all kinds of smart people.
She completely dismissed the whole idea as some new trendy thing. To give her credit I'm not sure she could really wrap her mind around it. Frankly, I'm not sure I was really able to wrap my mind around it except that it seemed like the 9th wonder of the world to me. And still does.
And it's not an "internet addiction" (although it IS addictive). It really does come down to the most fascinating concepts if you think about it. We can talk in real time to people in other countries, cultures. Communication is fast -- video, text, sound, phones over IP. Does it seem like a miracle to you? No wonder our world is changing so fast.
Business, too. Companies must be more accountable. They are more "transparent" and in better communication with their consumers. The do blogs, they do email marketing, they have awesome web pages with games and videos and free stuff. (I love free stuff.) They want to know about YOU and what you like and don't like so they offer online surveys and ways to get in touch if you want to complain or praise them. And when you do get in touch it's not like you wait around for days. Through companies like iContact you can have an autoresponder service so you hear back from them in about 1.25 seconds or depending on what part of the world I think they might actually time travel and have the power to respond to your mail before you've even sent it! (By the way, if you want to try their autoresponder time travel service, iContact has a 15-day free trial.)
What do you love most about the Internet? How and when did you discover it? Is there anything you hate about it? Did anyone else's mom just think it was some weirdo freakish thing that their kid was "getting into"? (Please tell me my mom is NOT the only one.)