In response to our “first internet experiences”, a fellow student wrote the following:
My first experience of the internet was using my house-mate’s dial up connection and talking with people in the USA. I found it fascinating that I could be whoever I wanted to be, we could make people believe that we rode kangaroos to school, all were surfers and lived the great Australian dream. This is one of the traps of the internet in that we can put up content without having to verify the accuracy of the text.
These days I mostly use the internet to conduct my studies. This works very well for me as I live on a farm out of town. The fact that we can be connected even though we are not in town is a great advantage, allowing me to change careers while working a job is fantastic. My wife is right into Facebook and interacts that way, I find that I don’t have the time with my studies and work, but I can see the advantages of interacting this way.
All in all the internet is a fantastic knowledge sharing tool, enabling worldwide communications only a mouse-click away.
After reading his post, I responded with:
Thanks for the flashbacks! In the early days, there were mainly Americans online… followed by the Canadians, Brits, with the Aussies joining in here and there. (A generalisation, but that was the gist of the demographics.)
I appreciated your comment about being “whoever you wanted to be” – that’s what it was in the online world. We had pseudonyms and alter-egos… there was a lot of role play and escapism to some extent. It’s interesting to see how that has changed in a lot of ways too.
I currently have many social media accounts for a variety of purposes. Way back when, I signed up to Facebook with a fake name I still use today… but I use that account to express my opinions more openly. Luckily, I never associated my real name with that account, so I do feel more liberated there and speak more freely, using less self-censorship. I use my actual name in social media more guardedly… I won’t disclose political opinions as readily, for example. Over the years, I have heard too many stories of people’s comments on social media made in the heat of the moment getting them fired, or affecting a job application negatively. I suppose I am grateful for the anonymity of the accounts I created in the olden days, as I feel that I still have some, but increasingly less, control over how I present myself to the world.
A funny observation though… Facebook (and other companies) are always asking me to be “friends” with myself, as they’re noticing that “we” might have a lot in common.
It might be of interest to you (and others) to listen to Tama Leaver’s Birth, Death and Facebook talk, which is fascinating and makes one think twice about what they innocently share on social media channels like Facebook. (Tama is one of the staff members in the Department of Internet Studies at Curtin.)
I also liked your comment about accuracy… digital literacy is not as prevalent in the internet community as I assumed back then. Working in libraries and the education sector has taught me that there is a strong need for such skills to be taught to others, whether they be from Gen Y, X, millennial, or older generations. We accept more and more information on the internet as “true” or accurate without analysis because it’s there. (Of course, I say “we” in general terms here too.)
PS: I don’t know about you, but I always rode my kangaroo to school when I was a kid… I don’t know what you were referring to there…