I was in an hour-long stretch class with four other people this afternoon. Most were decades older than me, and as it was my first time in the class I chose to keep my mouth shut and listen to their intermittent stream of conversation, interjecting comments only when I had something genuinely worthwhile to say.
Twenty minutes into the session, my classmates began griping about the many ill characteristics of computers, and how computers were doing horrible things to us. They were griping about carpal tunnel, griping about potential eye damage, and griping because “computers are so anti-social.”
While it’s true that a computer has never actually slapped me on the back with a cheery “howyadoing?”, I disagreed (in my head; remember, it was my first class and it’s never good to be outspoken when you’re the new girl) with their final comment.
Computers get an undeserved bad rap that they’ve turned us into indoor-dwelling addicts of all things virtual. I cannot fathom another invention that has so encouraged social behavior since the telephone.
Think about it. Computers enable all people, from the outgoingly confident to the chronically lonely, to communicate with one another in as non-threatening and thought-inspiring forum as they ever could hope to find.
I’ve been a webgirl for a number of years now and the more experience I accrue, the more stories I hear about people brought together by various sectors of the Internet.
The most recent occurred this afternoon, towards the last hour of my workday. I’d received e-mail from Elizabeth, a children’s librarian from Kansas who’s been long-distance dating my ex-boyfriend’s dear childhood friend, Kurt.
They’ve been corresponding for two years. Kurt went to visit her, she came to San Jose to visit him.
She just got back home from a week in San Jose and sent me a capsule synopsis of her visit:
“I wanted to tell you that Kurt and I are getting married. 🙂 Woohoo!”
How did they meet, you ask? Via a listserv devoted to Battlestar Galactica.
Kurt posted a request for a book.
Elizabeth sent him the book.
“Most times I forget how I met him,” she said in her final message of the evening. “But when I stop and think about it, it just blows me away.”
It makes me especially angry when the unknowing grumble that computers are confining us in our darkened carpeted dens or “veal-fattening pens”. I speak strongly on this issue because of the people I’ve met through the ‘net.
If not for the Internet, I would most likely *not* know:
My current boyfriend: He was one of my customers when I was the customer service department for Aimnet. Our first discussion was either about dial-up networking with NT or his request that Aimnet add “alt.tv.my-so-called-life” (later shortened to alt.tv.mscl) to it’s Sprint newsfeed. We reacquainted ourselves after I left Aimnet for SOS Group, he invited me to his company Christmas open house and I went. The next morning he sent me an e-mail page that read: Nice to finally met you! Hey Lynn, you want to get married and conquer the world together?” He was very pleased when I told him I’d dumped my beau (more about him later, unless you want to skip ahead).
One of my running partners: Charley sent me mail after finding motormouth.com in the local section of Yahoo!. He’s great and always sends me something uplifting when I need some postitive reinforcement.
My boss: Dean was also an Aimnet customer, and sent me a lovely complimentary note one afternoon. Months later he offered me a job. Yay!
Alvaro in Brazil: Alvaro saw me on TV. The “New Media News” segment about my americangirl.com woes received global syndication. We’ve been pen-pals since October. He called me on Saturday to wish me good luck in the Wharf to Wharf race.
Lately I’ve reacquainted myself with a college buddy, and last week even received an adoring message from a ql seventeen-year old systems wiz who speaks ganz toll Deutsch.
“I have fallen in love with your Web site.”
I won’t even go into the fact that I’ve found two jobs, bought a laptop, and found roommates for two friends via USENET and the WWW.
Speaking of my web site, last week I learned that I’ve been being watched. Someone set a “bot” (a computer process) that checked my columns.html page every 30 minutes for changes.
The bot originated from inside the firewall of my ex-beau’s employer.
Pretty creepy, eh?
I posted a “I know you’re running a bot, kill it or I’ll complain to your hostmaster” notice to columns.html and it the bot was gone by 9:45 the next morning (btw, thank you for that).
Maybe sometimes computers encourage us to be a smidgen *overly* social.