Maybe you grew up watching “I Love Lucy” or “Leave it to Beaver.” Or maybe “Saved By the Bell,” “Family Matters,” and “MTV’s Total Request Live (TRL)” were your weekly television lineup and jam growing up. For me, the latter were my 90’s and early 2000’s memories. These, I used to watch on my 32” fatty-- not flat screen-- T.V., with AOL Teen Chat and my best neighborhood friend playing Mario Kart or 007 on Nintendo64 in the background. I used to read “Goosebumps” on a weekly basis and always thought people with pagers were so cool. Yes, I was born in the 80’s, but my adolescent experiences revolve around the 90’s when so many amazing things were happening all at once. On the verge of turning 30--I still have four years-- it’s amazing to look back. This blog-style editorial never even existed pre my evolution into adulthood, pre-Internet and pre-cyberspace exploration. Now, there is even an Oscar-nominated movie (“Her”) based on the sometimes frightening reality of technology today. So, I invite readers to embark on a literature and spiritual journey of those few memories we may have before the Internet dominated the way some of us may live our lives today.
Try to think of the time when the wave of inter-connectedness first entered our lives in full force. I know we can all recall getting those free AOL upgrade CD’s, version blank in the mail, popping one of those babies in and hearing that oh, so familiar dial-up connection medley--bee-oo-weep, cuuuusssshhh, eeeek, cuuuusssshhh (this went on for what seemed like forever) and finally, “Welcome, you’ve got mail.” It was all so new. This was before Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google became popular. It was all about the chat rooms and buddy lists and exploring an entirely new way to connect with people. Before the Internet, after school, I would come home turn on TRL and watch Carson Daly introduce the top-ten artist’s video for the week. I remember seeing Eminem’s, “The Real Slim Shady” and Sisqo’s, “The Thong Song” videos for the first time. Although TRL is a thing of the past, I can be nostalgic at any time and find those classic videos on Youtube and post them on Facebook for all my Millennial peers to reminisce. There’s also no way to get bored Internet surfing.
Just type in your search engine with the words: “who is...,” “what are...,” “where do...,” “when can...,” “how do...” or “why am...” (or any combination of those words) and see what Google decides to fill in the blanks, and then explore. Hmm, I never wondered “Where Chuck Norris is?” but now I’m especially curious. “How do I Yodel?” Well, I don’t know, but please Google teach me to yodel.
“When can babies drink water?” Not sure, but I think this is something I will need to know for the future. Today, I can’t imagine life without email, Google, Skype and the many other programs of the Internet that has simplified life. Working as a reporter, I am especially baffled about how newspapers and print media were generated pre-Internet and pre-computers for that matter-- in a time when typewriters were the hottest thing off the press. And then came the Smart phones. Who would imagine Zach Morris’ iconic colossal, elephant-foot-sized phone would evolve into a hyper-connected, precious life line. What is next we must ask ourselves because there is always something. Maybe someone can finally invent a washing machine that transfers the wet clothes into the dryer or a vacuum cleaner that doesn’t burst my eardrums or drive me mad. But, despite these questionable technological advances, we must remember that face-to-face connections are the ones that really make the difference. So we can continue to text, email, Skype, Twitter, Facetime and all that jazz, but memories are always made in person. Keep the connection alive.