The internet just turned twenty-five years old! That’s a good year, isn’t it? A year to be noticed and applauded. As a birthday gift, I’ve made the internet a list of twenty-five ways it has impacted my life. If you have ideas to add, leave them in the comments below, or you can hop over to your own blog, write about it, and link back here for sharing. Here we go.
Image: Birthday pink cupcakes, Shutterstock
1. Blogging: Blogging is soooo good. Thanks, internet.
2. Social Media: I work in social media. If social media didn’t exist, I’d just be standing by the side of the road saying “Reheat if you like pizza!” and stuff like that. Thanks, internet, for giving me work.
3. Storytelling: Thanks for giving people a means to tell their story; one that doesn’t have a gatekeeper. There are reasons the internet needs to remain a free space and this is a HUGE one.
4. My Grandmother: Lulu was 90+ years and living in Montreal while I was in England. We used to have Skype conversations. Thanks, internet, for letting us visit. I got to spend time with my grandma before she left us, and I treasure those conversations.
5. Netflix: THANK YOU, internet!
6. Online Support: When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, there wasn’t even a local support group where someone my age (or perhaps just my state of mind) would fit in. Thank you, internet, for helping find connections to others who understood (and thanks #BCSM, FacingCancer.ca, and Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer).
7. The Teenage Years: An email archive going back to when I was about sixteen and BOY CRAZY. Thank you, internet?
8. Everything You Need in Your Pocket: Because of the internet – I can have my phone, my television, my work, my calendar, my pictures, my past, my projects, my banking, and just about everything else in my pocket, using the phone as an interface for that world. We are living Star Trek. Bring on warp speed!
9. Access: Thank you, internet, for making people accessible – whether they are company owners, organizations, actors, news rooms, etc. The barriers to conversation are knocked away by your powers (and everyone agreeing to take part).
10. Websites: Before these things happened, the internet was a lotta black or green screens with trickles of text. Thank you, internet, for these ‘houses’ online where we can build our dreams.
11. Opportunity Hunter: The internet made it easy to find my dream summer job in Alberta while I was living in Ottawa. I found a company in Jasper, emailed my application, had a phone conversation, and landed myself a summer position in one of Canada’s national parks. Thanks so much for that summer of fun, internet.
12. Collaboration: Thanks, internet, for providing a platform where sharing and engaging and collaboration are embraced. Because of this ability, I was able to not only crowdfund online to self-publish Claire Never-Ending, but then was able to work with people in England and the USA to get that book put together.
13. Traffic Navigation: I can check highway conditions online and see how crowded it looks. Back when I had a car to use, this was really helpful.
14. Street View: Did you know you can walk the streets of Rome without ever having been there? You can also see my husband and I waving to you if you click here.
15. Access to Steam: This is an online gamers paradise, offering games from way back when the internet had nothing but peach fuzz on its cheeks. Thanks, internet.
16. Selfies. There’s a reason we’re obsessed with taking these photos, and it’s to share it with everyone who cares online.
17. Spam: No, I’m just joking. Spam sucks, but that’s the price you pay for a forum where everyone can do what they darn well please. Spam might be a drawback, but the ability to get creative, to talk, and to challenge—those are huge benefits.
18. Online Shopping: Booking trips, buying shoes, selling art, plus those handy “discreet product name on the Visa bill” venues. Thanks, internet!
19. Collective Problem Solving: “What should I wear today?” You ask the world via your favourite social network… and within minutes, you’ll have an entire outfit planned by other people. Miraculous! Thank you, internet.
20. The Empowered Consumer: This is an interesting one. We can shop online and compare, compare, compare. The empowered consumer may be sticking it to the brick and motor business, but it’s still rather incredible stuff.
21. Hilarious Cat and Dog Photos: I needn’t say more. Thank you, internet!
22. Education: What, I can get a university degree online? What? Most of those lectures are available on YouTube for free? What!? Thanks, internet.
23. YouTube: Oh my goodness, I almost forgot YouTube. It’s my answer for every “how do I…” question.
24. The Biggest Brain in the World: I mean, Mother Earth certainly trumps it, as do the secrets of the universe, but the internet is growing everyday as people have the opportunity to add their knowledge. That’s cool. So thanks for being cool.
25. LOVE: Because of the internet, I was able to correspond to my Hungarian sweetheart from across the world via Gmail, then MSN messenger, then Skype – and with each advance, it felt as though we were closer together. So, for all the love fostered and grown online, thank you, internet!
So, what’s the trend here? Connection, I think. Thank you, internet, for all these connections. World Wide Web makes a lot of sense from the perspective of connection. And now I’m going to go and disconnect in favour of some real life enjoyment. One thing you can’t do online is hug, eat, sleep, or breathe, swim, suntan, drink tea, dance all night, or taste chocolate; but give it time, just give it time…
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