There were two births incredibly relevant to my family in 1993. The first was my own. The second was when Tim Berners-Lee unleashed the World Wide Web into the general public, no strings attached.
I can’t say I remember much about 1993. Even those sublime, early 90’s sounds of Salt ‘n Pepa managed to fade from my itty-bitty hippocampus. However, I doubt my mother looked into my baby brown eyes and ever imagined how intensely the formation of my identity would rely on Dr. Berners-Lee’s Web and the global network we know simply as “the Internet.”
As I read The Future of the Internet And How to Stop It by Harvard scholar and notorious netizen Jonathan Zittrain, I recalled my various encounters with the Internet throughout its evolution. When you’ve been a Facebook user for more than a third of your life (and I really can’t believe it’s been that long, either) you tend to forget that the Internet wasn’t always memes, social media, hacktivism, and its own culture in general. While reading Dr. Zittrain’s brief history of the proprietary services like AOL or CompuServe that were popular during the 90s, I fondly recalled being 3-years-old and logging into AOL 1.0, listening to the dial-up sound with both auditory displeasure and curiosity larger than life.
Twenty-one years of the thriving, publicly accessible World Wide Web have created our contemporary youth culture, which I believe has contributed greatly to my personality traits. I would have used the word “altered” instead of “created,” yet I can hardly imagine an alternate, web-less universe in which I would be this creative or likely to betray my perfectly decent education in grammar in ode to a concept like doge.
"Do what you love" is an idea many parents and educational figures stress to American children. The phrase has become something of a cliche for the Millennials. "Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life," it says on the cutesy graphic found on WeHeartIt.
I spent years trying to figure out what that meant, while also feeling a responsibility to my family. As a biracial kid with family in both Germany and India, I knew that I would need to find my passion while avoiding the possibility of squandering my time away. I was often advised on career planning by my German grandmother, a tech-savvy immigrant and former hairdresser who went on to work as an analyst at the Merrill Lynch in New York City. She provoked my emphasis on learning and pushed me in the general direction of a law career, all the while bonding with me over episodes of The Suze Orman Show. This sounds depressing, except for the fact that I was around 10 at the time, and trust me: there’s nothing more hilarious than a small child trying to explain NASDAQ to you or asking their parents to take them to the bookstore appearance of a CNBC financial guru. I had a family member to be very close with, to teach me everything she knew, and gain a little wisdom beyond my years. The memories make me laugh, anyway.
My grandmother died when I was 12, and as much as I miss her and wish she were still around, I’m doubt I’d have flourished into the real world under her continued guidance. My teenage years catapulted me into a world of both normalcy and oddity, during which I didn’t always study for that Monday morning quiz because I had stayed up watching some junky television show and chatting about it with friends on tumblr. I had Internet-based romances with cute boys, who I’d met on a nerdy forum where my real-life best friend from high school connected with childhood schoolmates. I still managed to do well academically, but if there happens to be an afterlife with Wi-Fi, my grandmother was probably hemming and hawing at my social choices based on my Facebook statuses from 2007 to 2011.
When I reached my freshman year of college, I was so deeply entrenched in web culture that I decided to start a YouTube channel, and through videos, I met and befriended several close friends, and maybe even a boyfriend or two. Connected every day by Facebook, tumblr, and YouTube, it doesn’t feel strange when we unite every summer in Anaheim, California for VidCon, packing into hotel rooms like soon-to-be partied-out geek sardines.
Throughout all this time of networked fun courtesy of broadband, I’ve still always kept academia and a fledgling career on my mind, though my ambitions didn’t match up with what I originally envisioned. Too stale to me was the world surrounding traditional law. I was still interested in government, but I took law school off the table, as my parents encouraged me to know my dreams before pursuing them. Immediately I noticed how I was drawn into the world of media and communications. Moreover, I was interested in how media interacts with the political sphere.
One day, the answer was clear. “Do. what. you. love.” And what I love…is the Internet.
This mentality of passion combined with my sense of duty to my family, friends, and the integrity of the global network is what keeps me up at night, consuming the works of tech experts like Berners-Lee and Zittrain and even those who write about the Web’s cultural implications, such as feminist scholar Jessica Valenti.
Over the past five years, I’ve mildly annoyed my wonderful, hardworking mom and dad with hours of fandom blogging, incessant Google+ hangouts, YouTube video blogging, and trips across the continental U.S. to explore my Internet friendships. Despite the fact that I do, in fact, possess a normal, grounded life with school friends and real-life extracurriculars, I do not see the Internet as a means to an end, but as a facet of identity. Thus, I refuse to see all this time online as inconsequential.
The ultimate objective of this blog is the exploration of Internet policy and culture in the 21st century. Ideally, it will be the crossroads of the formality of academia and the casual nature of personal narrative. It is important to remember that while research should be discussed maturely, an Internet scholar is never really too far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like.
TL;DR version of this post: They told me to do what I loved, so I took what I loved and I owned it.
it’s my dream to go into law and work on internet policy and cybersecurity and help assure everyone’s freedom to be kickass and cool without losing net neutrality
but i’m also way into discussing web culture and i have a lot of personal stories from the past 7 years or so
so i decided to write about it
and i started a blog called users like you
i would REALLY appreciate it if you guys read the first post or something, and if you like it, follow? i’m probably going to be using this blog when writing my senior honors thesis and i could really use the exposure :o)
ty friends! <3
So I’m headed to Florence in a few weeks and kind of need some disposable income. I also have a few small pieces of watercolour paper cut. These pieces are 2.5 x 3.5 in—the size of standard playing cards. I’ve done lots of work at this scale in the past and am wondering if anyone would buy commissions. My specialty is churches, but I also do other buildings and could probably do a naturescape, too. I’m terrible at people.