Insanity Crash: A Decade of Unsociable Socialising

"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace." - John Lennon

2007, is at it's death, for all the time it took, and this year marked an important moment in my life, that went slightly unnoticed by almost everyone I know and I don’t think I made a big deal about it at the time, but over the last few days the implications of the milestone started to impact upon my mind and thoughts, and it is thus:

10 years ago my family got their first Personal Computer.

In years to come this will be as significant as our parents’ first colour TV, our grandparents’ first Radio, our great-grandparents’ first sighting of a car, all most interesting and shocking moments. I remember going to get it from PC World. I remember it getting set up for the first time on the coffee table and running the PC for the first time. The PC was a Packard Bell which ran Windows 95 with the Packard Bell Navigator running on top of it. This was an “environment” that ran every single time you switched on the computer, and gave you a home styled desktop with filing cabinets, a playroom and other such useless trappings that made the PC run so slowly. The specs were astonishing for its time – a 166MHz processor, with 32Mb of RAM and a 2Gb Hard Drive. The Intel Pentium had MMX technology – it was able to play music and run videos at the same time, which was a leap beyond leaps. Now, my mobile phone has a larger resolution screen relatively and has the same amount of memory as my hard disc. My sisters laptop right now has the same amount of RAM that the original PC had in total.

My first experience of the internet was also in those halcyon days. My father, ever ahead of his time, got us Cabletel Online within a few months of it being available. We were given a family email address: shields@edgmont.cableol.net (or as near enough) and I can remember with a smile and startling accuracy the dialling chimes the whiney 33.6k modem made. We used Netscape Navigator to surf the internet and the value of bookmarks was the funest thing about the internet. Yahoo chat pages were at the bleeding edge of contact, and I was only allowed about half an hour a night to go online – remember that there was no Bebo, no Myspace, and most interestingly, no Youtube or Wikipedia – what did I do?

In fact I remember when my dad installed Internet Explorer 4 for the first time. It became the default browser for the internet and opening of web pages like it does today when you install a new program. This threw my father, and myself, as it had seemed that our trusty Netscape had been erased. I only realised the truth as it probably really happened a few months ago while trying to get rid of Realplayer and stop it opening mp3s.

The ages of 20 to 30 are the last generation of people who truly know what it was like to live without the internet. I can just remember coming home and having to phone my mates, hoping they would be in. I used to just turn up on the doorstep asking if they were about – now it is arranged via Bebo or text. I remember also just watching telly rather than Youtube for silly clips, You’ve Been Framed will never be the same again.

Now we have a generation of children who know nothing but the internet. They grew up with it, and it will always be there – they will not understand what it was like without it, when information was fed to people rather than led by people.

Technology will hit a roof of what is possible at some point, but I suppose we set the height of the roof.

Jonathan, you are the only person I know that does not have the internet.