Posted by: Farren | 25/05/2015

The Internet Generation

A friend on Twitter linked an article yesterday about the difference between “Millennials” and “Generation-X”. Now I was born in 1979, but I feel only a tiny connection to this. I didn’t have a computer until I was a junior in high school. They recommended my parents get me one to help with my schoolwork. They got me a used Apple IIe from one of their patients (dad was an Optometrist), but I don’t remember having Oregon trail amongst the two dozen or so disks that came with it. One of our family friends had a 1990 Apple Classic when I was in middle school and it helped spark my love of computers. I can’t remember the games we played on it other than Tetris, but because it was in the living room of their house, we didn’t get to spend much time with it; only an hour or so.

There was a computer lab in my elementary/middle school that opened when I was in 7th grade. I remember going in there and playing Jeopardy (the most) and other games on the computers there. I can’t remember if they were Apple or IBM (I think they were IBM), but I do remember the big 5.25 floppy disks that we’d put into the drives to make things work. We were also introduced to programming. I didn’t understand it, but I thought it was cool typing in the commands that were written on a piece of paper next to the computer. It was “BRUN” followed by a long list of strange commands. The resulting imagery was something like the “Ribbons” screensaver from the Windows OS through Windows XP.

In high school, we had a computer lab, too of course filled with Apples from the mid 90’s. My junior year I was introduced to it for my English class. It was awesome and I fell in love with computers during that time. I spent the next two years playing games on those machines. I did a little schoolwork like I was supposed to, but my junior year English teacher didn’t really mind that we were mostly playing. I was fascinated with the computer and thought it was the greatest thing ever. I wasn’t even on the internet, and I couldn’t get enough.

Then my parents got a computer at our house. It was mostly for them for their business, but they let my sister and I use it. They got AOL, and that was the beginning of the end: The Internet was before me. I created an account and went online. I poked around in the chat rooms, watching people talk to one another, and talking to some myself. I made a few friends in the beginning, but my time on the computer was limited. It belonged to my parents, after all. So I took matters into my own hands and built my own computer. Oh the joys of Windows 95. Still I was sharing the family’s phone line, so I got my own. Now with my own computer and my own phone line, I had more control of my time online. I spent more time in chat rooms and made more friends. But they didn’t last. I never kept contact with the people I met in the rooms I visited, the one I created, or the IMs we exchanged. That lasted about six years.

In 2001 I fell off the grid. Life happened and I wasn’t online anymore. I still had my email accounts, but I never exchanged my address with anyone I had met. It would be about a year and a half before I was back online. I never went to college, so I didn’t know about Napster until it was too late for me. By the time I was back online, Napster’s time was almost at an end. My friends that I had met on AOL introduced me to LimeWire and FrostWire, and that’s where I built my music collection. Looking back, it’s a wonder I didn’t get a computer riddled with viruses. When I came back online, Myspace was the big thing to have. The new world of Social Media was born and I decided to join it. I created a page for myself, but never really did anything with it. I didn’t really make any friends, or spend much time on it. Surprisingly, it’s still up. Thankfully, I didn’t get into Facebook…and I still refuse to.

I’m on Twitter, and I have a Google+ account, but I don’t really have any friends. I’ve been in chat rooms on IRC and I’m in some forums, but I don’t feel the connection with people that the others do. It seems like I somehow missed that part of my life where I learned how to make friends. I don’t feel the connection that other people my age do to others and technology. I never learned much about computers or programming because I was without a computer or personal connections for three years. It would still be another couple before I was really online, and even now it feels like I’m late to the party and that I just don’t belong. I seem to have missed the whole Internet Revolution.

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