Saturday, May 5, 2018

Things I Have Learned On the Internet

I sent my first email in 1986.  I wasn’t impressed. 

My second email was sent in 1993, and I’ve been online pretty much continuously ever since.  I remember when the internet was text-based.  When Yahoo had a “what’s new?” feature that would list the two or three dozen new websites that they’d located during the previous 24 hours.  When photos would load one line at a time.  When I had to tell my students that they really ought to consider getting an email account since it was free through the university and they might find it useful.  When searching meant Lycos and Google was new.

I started my first blog in 1999, when nobody really knew what to call them, and I’m still here blogging away in 2018 when nobody under 30 remembers that such things exist.

It’s been a while. 

I’ve learned a few things during my time on the internet – oh, yes indeedy, I have.  Some of these lessons have sunk in over time, and some of them have revealed themselves in blinding flashes of inspiration and some of them have more or less done both, which is an interesting trick.  I can’t claim that these are particularly unique lessons – there’s a lot of people online, and even if only a small part of them are actually paying attention that’s still a lot of people, the math being what it is.

So, a few things the internet has taught me, in no particular order:


1. Nobody really remembers mathematical order of operations anymore.

2. You can argue about politics all you want, but mention how many spaces you should put after a period at the end of a sentence and may the deity of your choice have mercy on your soul.

3. There are a great many people on this planet on whose hands time weighs very heavily.

4. There are also a great many people on this planet who have insane amounts of talent.  Sometimes they even know what to do with it.

5. Rule 34 is alive and well.

6. Technology follows the same curve as everything else: far-off dream, cutting edge reality, new plaything, relaxation device, utility, chore, sinkhole.  Right now the internet bounces between the last four for me, with differing emphases on different days.

7. The high school reunion business is pretty much dead since social media has largely replaced it.

8. If you remember what high school was like, therefore, you may find social media makes more sense.

9. Suddenly everyone’s an expert on grammar.

10. Eventually the jackals take over and this is why we can’t have nice things.

11. Along the arc between rise and fall, you can still find good people and real communities.  You just have to seek them out.

12. There is a difference between information and knowledge, and an even bigger difference between knowledge and wisdom.

13. The world can be a very small place with the right technology, and this can be a lovely thing.  Most of the time.

14. The Enlightenment dream of perfect communication leading to peace and harmony among humanity has pretty much conclusively been disproven.  So much of what allows people to get along, it turns out, is their misconceptions of each other.


LucyInDisguise said...

We luvs us the numbered lists - especially when our boredom sets in. (You just knew this was coming the moment you hit "post", didn't ya?)

1. “Nobody” is rather broad. Few? Damn Few? Only 16.278?

2. Two. And let’s leave the politics out of this, shall we?

3. I’m one.

4. I’m not one. But I do know what to do with all that talent that I don’t have.

5. ?. A quick Google brings back a large list. I’m guessing this one:
Seems to still be alive, but I may be mistaken.

6. Sinkhole. Occasionally, Stinkhole.

7. There are 15 people from my senior class that have not heard of this. They are already planning the 50th. I plan to not attend.

8. I remember. I remember well enough to know that they have never, in the history of the world, ever printed enough money to get me to consider going through that again. Social media might make sense, but I don’t do social media. At all. So I wouldn't know.

9. And every single one of them is wrong ‘cept me.

10. I knew there was a reason, but I don't think I would have guessed jackals. Mustelids, maybe, but not jackals.

11. A map would be incredibly useful.

12. And an even larger difference between wisdom and information on the internet.

13. NO. Just, no. We do not need the world to be a small place. It is crowded enough that I can't seem to get away from the clowns as it is.

14. Well, you most certainly nailed this one.

Looking forward to the next list …


David said...

I did, actually. Been looking forward to it. :)

1. From what I can tell regarding the fevered arguments on social media (see point 8), it's pretty much nobody. Let's call it "damn few" then.

2. Two. Definitely two.

4. I remember telling one of my interns when I ran the museum - a young man who insisted that all he needed to do was to master the material and therefore social skills were a pointless waste of time - that the real money in this world is not made by people who master material. It is made by people who know how best to use people who master the material, and that requires social skills. Not sure how seriously he took that, coming from a historian working for a nonprofit, but there you go.

5. Rule 34: If it exists, there is porn of it.

6. Of late, I'm definitely hovering between chore and sinkhole. There are times when I just turn the whole thing off.

7/8. I have yet to attend a reunion (35th coming up soon...), partly because they always hold them over Thanksgiving and I'm never in town for that, partly because (as my dad always said) I spent years incarcerated with those people and don't need to see most of them again, and partly because the ones I want to see I mostly already see on social media. I actually had a pretty good time in high school - made some good friends, fell in love, had some lovely moments - but once was enough.

10. Jackals. Carrion feeders who prey on the weak and the unwary.

11. Don't I know it. Sometimes you get lucky, though.

13. I have too many good friends who are too damned far away these days, and I like being able to close that distance. Plus I'm a city boy - I like crowds.

14. Thanks!

LucyInDisguise said...

Great Fun!

5. Yeah, I was afraid (literally) of that. Gonna stick with the Maneuvering and Warning Signals, if you don't mind. Infinitely more useful.

10. Ferrets fall into the same carrion/scavenger niche; but cuter, and can be (more or less) domesticated. Unlike most of the people I know.

13. Enochlophobia.

It's completely irrational to believe you'll be trampled to death by a crowd.

That is, 'till it actually happens. (Lost a cousin in that one.)

14. 'Tis my honor, Sire.

Have a good evening; time for us ol' folk to head off to bed.


David said...

5. You are right to be afraid. Shows you've got some intelligence.

13. I actually like crowds. I like cities. They're endlessly entertaining. I could live quite happily in New York or London or pretty much any major metropolitan area. When we were driving through the southwest a couple of summers ago - from Salt Lake to the Grand Canyon and back - I remember thinking, "Wow, this is really beautiful country and I would go stark raving mad if I had to spend more than a week in it because THERE'S NO PEOPLE HERE." Different strokes, I guess.

Everything can be dangerous if taken to extremes, though. Sorry to hear about your cousin - I remember when that happened. The news even made it through my junior-high bubble.