I feel like I owe a lot of my mental stability to the the fact that the internet exists. Hard to believe the internet pretty much didn’t exist when I was born and I didn’t have it in my home until I was in 7th grade when we got our first PC. It had Windows 98 and it had a 2GB hard drive (so big!). Back then it was dial up only, and what did I spend the majority of my time doing on the internet back then, tying up the phone line? Chatting. Good old AOL Instant Messenger, or AIM. I’d pre-arrange a time with my friends at school and then at that time we would both dial onto the internet and login to AIM. It was, like totally, the best thing ever! I couldn’t wait to get home everyday and chat with my friends, sometimes 2 or 3 people at a time! I was super impressed with this great technology! Little did I know that just about ten year later, that internet would be high speed, wireless, and in the palm of my hand with a zillion times more processing power than the computer used to send people to the moon. Which still blows my mind!
For a long time AOL was where I spent a lot of my time. I would log in as often as my parents would allow and browse websites about the Backstreet Boys and chat and chat and chat some more. I would geek out over the latest Final Fantasy game and sneak into the chat rooms my parents didn’t want me to use, in order to talk with other people about all sorts of geeky stuff!
Well, along came DSL and cable internet, thank goodness, and since it didn’t busy up the one phone line (no cell phones yet!), I had even more free time to read various sites which for me by then were Harry Potter websites. The DSL allowed for me to be able to actually view pictures online! Remember how long it used to take for pictures to load? Anyway, it was around this time that the iPod got invented and along with it…iTunes. With iTunes came LEGAL music downloads and one of my favorite things… podcasts. My favorite podcasts ever was Pottercast. I would look forward to each episode more than anything else in my shallow teenage life. No one else in my real life seemed to care as much about Harry Potter as I did, but the people online did. Those people “got” it and I felt connected to them, even though I have never met any of them in person. I felt a part of the community, and it was great.
Fast forward to the present day and we now live in a world built on internet communities and networking. With the invention of social networking there is an internet community out there for everyone. When just 20 years ago, you might be the only person you knew with a particular viewpoint or interest, now you can connect instantly to thousands of other with similar interests and views. No one is alone. This is what I love. That is what gives it such great value.
When my world was turned upside down as my religious beliefs shifted, and I left my religion behind, the internet community was there for me when I felt so alone, I wasn’t sure I could survive it. Reading other people’s stories and getting advice was invaluable to me, and I even made some connections to people in real life through these forums that are now friends I can turn to if I need to talk, and I can likewise do for them.
But, even if not many people in my “real” life share my interest in blogging, crafting, Harry Potter, or shares my religious views, there are plenty of other people out there that do and I can have very meaningful interactions with them, and those relationships give my life a great flavor.
Check out my latest video in which I discuss my love of the internet communities and how much they have meant to me over the years!