As a user of the Web/Internet and technology for a number of years, the sites I have used, along with the way I have used them, has changed throughout the course of my time online.
It all began with creating a Hotmail account in 2001, which then gave me my first taste of instant messaging through MSN Messenger. My family had just upgraded our operating system from Windows 98 to Windows XP, and with this upgrade, my parents also decided to jump on the Internet bandwagon (finally). Up until we were connected, I had only imagined the Internet as some strange world, where magical things happened that couldn’t be explained to the average human being (or for my sake, a 9 year old girl who was more concerned with riding her bike around the neighbourhood than sitting in front of a computer). Little did I know this would all change.
Within a few years, I had grown from pointless online games (anyone remember that stupid Never Ending Game?) and videos, to creating my first social networking profile. Low and behold, MySpace became a ‘thing’ at my middle school. If you were cool enough to make someone’s top eight (more of a popularity contest if you ask me), and post the next coolest song on your profile (I swear I changed mine daily to reflect what kind of mood I was in), and you got a ridiculous number of comments on your profile picture, you were on your way to MySpace stardom in my little town.
(Side note: I haven’t thought about my MySpace in years, and talking about it made want to reminisce and log back onto my account… and to my surprise, the entire layout has changed and I couldn’t be bothered to go through a tutorial on how to use the “new and improved” version, so I just deleted my account. And to be honest, it felt kind of liberating to finally get rid of it!)
Anyways, the time had come where a dial-up connection was no longer sufficient (we could only be on the Internet for short spurts of time, seeing as it used our landline connection, and heaven forbid my mother would miss a phone call) as it was slower than a snail, and we upgraded to DSL. This new method of connection allowed us to be online without inconveniencing the phone line and was a heck of a lot quicker than dial-up.
I was now at the point in my life where assignments in high school involved using research outside of the books on library shelves, and the use of social media was at an all-time high. I would easily balance doing a project and chatting on MSN (whether it be leisurely gossip or for the sake of homework), and my life essentially revolved around anything and everything online. From YouTube videos, to the latest celebrity gossip on TMZ, you bet I knew it all.
Then, one summer evening in 2006, a friend had told me about “The Facebook” and how it was the next big thing that everyone at our high school was signing up for. Initially, I brushed it off, but figured I would sign up for it anyways. For about a year, my profile was as basic as it could be, and I had very few “friends” online, seeing as it hadn’t caught on yet. But near the end of 2007, it seemed to have blown up, and anyone and everyone had an account, and you were getting friend requests daily from people you hung out with, from people you saw passing in the halls, and from people who were friends of friends of friends. And we all know the story of how addicting and pointless and ridiculous Facebook is and can be, but at the time, it was a popularity contest that consumed everyone’s lives (and for some, it still does to this day). It was my main method of communication with friends (other than face-to-face conversation, and texting), and it was an easy way to keep track of what everyone was up to.
Fast forward a few more years, and here I am writing this blog for COMM 2F00, and reflecting upon my online practices and having a really difficult time recalling what other things I’ve done online in the past 13 years, other than the big momentous social networking moments. Which is kind of pathetic, to think I’ve spent so much time online, wasting away time, only to recall 3 or 4 things. I still occasionally browse Facebook, and I’ll scroll through Twitter once in a while, and even do some online shopping once in a while, but overall, I find myself getting bored with the Internet (shocking statement, I know). I feel as though I’ve spent so much time aimlessly browsing things, that I catch myself wondering what sort of productive things I could be doing with my time. And that’s when I close my laptop and go outside, or read a book, or visit friends. While it’s been a great tool for educational purposes, and looking up answers to stupid questions, I think the social media aspect of the Internet had taken over my life at one point, and I’m happy to say I don’t ‘abuse’ those sorts of sites anymore, and use the Internet for more productive purposes. I can quickly look up a recipe for something I’m craving for dinner, or stream a movie or TV show online, and this convenience factor is undeniable.