It absolutely bewilders me sometimes. The night’s writing is finished. I’ve done everything I need to do and now have obligation free time on my hands. There isn’t squat on the tube but that’s okay. I’m sitting at a computer connected to the World Wide Web. Almost literally, the history of human knowledge is at my fingertips. I could explore the farthest reaches of the known universe, investigate my own biology down to the quantum level, or just watch naked people doing remarkable things to each other in streaming video. But I don’t do any of it. I sit with my fingers frozen over the keyboard and I can’t think of a single place to go.
I love the Internet. If I need to know what day the solstice falls on or what kind of vegetation is found in the Nevada desert, I can find it in about six seconds. If I need a photo of a clown eating a human arm, my search might expand to half a minute. I can write you and ask to borrow a red and white shirt, or look up an old friend in Zimbabwe and confess that I once slept with his sister. What’s he going to do? He can respond with his rage at the speed of light, but he’s still in Zimbabwe, for chrissakes.
I hated the idea of interconnected computers when I first heard of it. It would ultimately destroy our ability for the real world interaction which had allowed us to evolve and thrive over the past four million years. It would make quasi-experts out of loudmouth barflies and sooner or later, the intelligence of the entire race would plateau. We would settle for quick hit knowledge rather than long studies in the things that fascinate us. This World Wide Web, I reasoned, would bring about the dumbing down of society.
Mostly I was just bitter because I couldn’t afford a PC. I heard of men and women having real time conversations over instant messaging technology. Free to converse without the inhibitions of a face-to-face meeting, these people were hooking up with the help of microchips and processors. Sure, they were lying about their age, social status and appearance, but they were hooking up nonetheless. Of course I was envious. I still had to make cold calls and prowl the bars.
My first experience on the Internet was in a chatroom. I had heard there were ways to converse with complete strangers from around the world, but didn’t believe it. I stumbled into a place called the Ant Farm and got hooked. I stayed hooked for about a year. Then I discovered that chatrooms are filled with the same blustery assholes you find in the real world, only louder and bolder with the anonymity.
I still love the Internet. E-Mail alone saves me hours in phone time and allows me to forumalate my thoughts before I deliver them. For research at 3 in the morning, the web cannot be beat. If something extraordinary happens anywhere in the world, I will know about it very quickly through Google news. If I want to see a nude shot of Tina Louse (oh yes, there is one), I could find it in no time.
My first computer cost me about nine hundred bucks. I’m still paying for it, in fact. It had a 3MB hard drive, a 56K processor and 64 MB of ram. It was among the best machines on the market in 1997. Today, I couldn’t get $50 for it at a pawn shop.
Yep, I dig the web. What about you? Think it’s a portal to knowledge? Or the ultimate tool of doom. Also, what are you wearing?