Some thoughts on how the Internet has shaped my life

It’s so weird to think that the Internet didn’t exist (at least on a mass scale) when my friends and I were born. With the onset of this technology, we’ve truly witnessed a revolution in how people get information and communicate. Facebook posts, Twitter updates, and Google searches have become second nature for many people. Today I was thinking about the excitement with which I first greeted the Internet. I remember in ninth grade my parents bought America Online for my sister and I to use.

America Online guy

I had heard about this novel World Wide Web idea, and even had some friends who used the Prodigy online service provider (including my sixth-grade crush who used it to communicate with another girl in our class…I was so jealous of this chica!). I installed the AOL CD-ROM, created my username (I can’t remember the first one but know that at one point it was “Amalthea66.” Amalthea after the “Last Unicorn” character, and 66 because my favorite number was 6.), filled out my profile, and started visiting chat rooms. To me, chat rooms were the coolest thing about the Internet.

I remember visiting some rooms that were game-based (e.g. users played anagrams together), others specifically for teenagers, and others promoting “general conversation.” Each time, I had a blast. I would ask people where they lived, what they did for fun, and whether they had siblings. Not only did I think it was awesome you could converse with multiple people simultaneously, and meet people from all over the country, but I also liked how the Internet made everyone equal. It didn’t matter what you looked like, what you had done in the past, or whether you were shy in real life. You started each conversation with a blank slate.

After I got over my fascination with chat rooms, I focused on finding people I knew in person (or at least who I knew of), online. AOL had a profile search where you could input a particular city or town, and find everyone (both online and offline) with that place listed in his or her profile. If you saw that someone was online, you could message that person. This is how I got involved in my first serious romantic relationship. A male classmate I knew of, but had never ever spoken to, messaged me. We started talking over AOL, and after a few discussions discovered our third-period classrooms were in the same hallway. We thus decided to meet up at after class, and walk to our next class together.

Well, the walk went well and before we knew it, we were dating. The relationship lasted a couple of years. I wonder if I would have become involved in the liaison had the Internet not been available. Typing instant messages were surely easier than initiating in-person conversation. In college I got to know my eventual boyfriend by talking with him nightly on AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). And I met a subsequent boyfriend when I searched AOL for English-speaking French guys living in my study abroad city (I was intrigued by his username: “BlueSkyNeverFall.”).

I met my current boyfriend (now fiance) the old-fashioned way– through a friend. Facebook did have a hand in our getting together, however. After seeing him for the second time, he “friended” me on Facebook. That’s how we got each others’ phone numbers, and began speaking nightly over the phone. I know that I’ve finally found the guy for me, regardless of how we met. And while I’m no longer scouring the Internet for potential love interests, I still love having the opportunity to converse with people all over the world. Friends living in India, Germany, Morocco and Egypt (all of whom I got to know in person) are just an email, Facebook message, or Skype conversation away.

And obviously the Internet allows me to do so many other things. Those include pay bills, watch TV shows, listen to the radio, search for information, work from home, and blog. Long live the Internet! I still, however, won’t cave in and buy Internet for my phone. I like having some time away from the Web (haha, no one calls it that anymore), where I’m forced to enjoy silence, my thoughts, and my immediate surroundings. All of these things are quite good for us from time to time, I’d say!

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3 Comments on “Some thoughts on how the Internet has shaped my life”

  1. Brad Fallon Says:

    Ha! Ha! I remember the good old days! Nice post Christine!

  2. ina Says:

    Man… AOL… chatrooms… didn’t we all start out that way with just a dream and a hotmail account?…
    My husband and I fell in love during winter break while chatting on AOL using webcams until 4am every single night. Made my parents so angry! (we only had 1 computer in the house, so they didn’t like to see the light on still at 3am and then see me sleep until noon). If it wasn’t for the internet, who knows if we would have gotten to know each other so well. Like you said: chatting online is just easier… I guess it all works out for the best 🙂 Viva el internet!

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