Tag Archives: don’t you forget about me

intro-net, glitter and all: redux

It was a Sunday morning when I first heard the high-pitched squeal of dial-up as it came through my computer. I was fifteen.

When the homescreen appeared, my first thought was this was some sort of fake test page. It sounds ridiculous now, but I remember that being my first reaction. Because it couldn’t be real. It couldn’t. The headline, which seemed huge across that 17” screen, said River Phoenix was dead.

It seemed impossible.

But so did the Internet.

Would the day I got my first email account and officially joined the Information Age have had such an impact if it hadn’t crossed paths with the death of that amazing boy? Probably not. But I still remember the goosebumps. The disbelief. Info still coming in about what happened. Details not entirely clear. But there it was. Data traveling at dial-up speed, faster than anything we’d ever known.

My first day online I looked forward to sending emails to friends, to joining them in chat rooms, to surfing the quaint and less complex web. I’d promised my parents I would watch the clock – every minute was money spent. (Technically, it still is, although who’s counting?) Instead, the day I got my own IP address was also my introduction to what has now become a huge facet of the online experience: collective grief.

Fast-forward eighteen years, and there is an entire generation that doesn’t know what dial-up was. Or River Phoenix.

I would think that this generation would approach the web with a bit more savvy then we did. We who happily paid per minute to surf and download and log on again and again each time the modem dropped out.

My friend Morgan once wrote a great tutorial explaining the Internet to users d’un certain age. For them, this is a brand new world. But how to explain why today’s fifteen-year-olds don’t understand the impact of half the things they do online? This worries me sometimes. There are repercussions and responsibilities that come with a Facebook page, a twitter handle, an email address of one’s own.

Once you’re online, well, it’s hard to go back. Life online is like glitter. As Demetri Martin said:

The thing about glitter is if you get it on you, be prepared to have it on you forever, because glitter doesn’t go away. Glitter is the herpes of craft supplies.

I’ll never forget that Sunday. I’ll never forget how powerful an introduction it was to this new world. How I called friends to tell them what I’d read. What I’d seen online. There was no Facebook on which to post, no twitter platform on which to tweet. We called, we cried.

My thoughts for those now fifteen-year-olds online? Respect yourself and your privacy. Think before you type. And be sure to have an offline life. The Internet is a wonderful thing. But much of it is a vicarious experience and you might be missing the chance to do some incredible things in real life. Read real books, watch movies in theaters, go to concerts, shop in stores. Connect with people, who will also connect you to more incredible things online. It’s a very cool cycle.

And google River Phoenix. Watch Stand By Me and Running on Empty and The Thing Called Love, amongst many more. He was incredible. He was talented. He didn’t have to die so young. Don’t do what he did. xo a.

In keeping with the spirit to OWN THE BRAG, I’m posting my favorite post as part of Alison and Ado’s 1st Blogoversary Bash.

As part of RemebeRED, I’ve revised an older post “to explore our earliest memories of being online.”



darwin, google. google, darwin.

smartphone #stripemania

Technology is the knack of so arranging the world that we do not experience it. – Rollo May

At the end of a miserable day, instead of grieving my virtual nothing, I can always look at my loaded wastepaper basketand tell myself that if I failed, at least I took a few trees down with me.” – David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day

I may have complained once or twice about my fears that smartphones were making me stupid. That the ambiguity and the patience that came with having to think about something, savor the unknown, consider the possibilities, all disappeared with a google search. Well, the results are coming in and I’m not sure what to make of them.

I love google. It is a marvelous tool. But I think that the google revolution may in fact be screwing with evolution. Because new research done at Columbia University is revealing that search engines have changed the way we think. (Big surprise. Huge.)

Published online last week, “Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips” is kind of amazing and terrifying all at once. While the conclusions have yet to be made as to whether this transactive memory, the google effect, is for better or worse, I’m a bit skeptical.

If this new way of thinking doesn’t require us to collect and file away information, merely to have the cognitive skill to know how to find it, what do we do when the servers go down? Because they go down all the time. All the time. (I’d say they’re only human, but they’re not.)

If our experiences are no longer firsthand, how does that shape our imaginations?

It’s fascinating to see the brain mapping done by neuroscientist Gary Small (see video below via Good),  but is all that activity helping us to retain more? Because, personally, I like storing my facts and figures and useless random pop culture know-all right here in my head, and not on a cloud server.

I’m going to go read a book now. And not on the iPad. Because I need the balance of tech and text to be both online and off. Is it just me? xo a.