Some people know the distinguished feeling of not having the internet constantly present in their early years, just for it to become an absolute necessity a couple of years later.
Through the first few years of my life, the internet was not even remotely that big of a deal. Being born in the late 90s, I remember as a kid having a landline to make important family calls on. Then slightly later on, it felt like the phone to have was a “brick” Nokia, mostly just to play Blockade. That snake game got me through some boring nights as a kid and for a minute it was my main source of video gaming. That was until I finally owned a Super Nintendo around the mid-2000s and became obsessed with Super Mario and Donkey Kong. However, the idea of the internet as it exists today with social media and whatnot just didn’t even remotely enter my vision until slightly later on.
All about Social Media
I wasn’t even aware of Myspace or any other social media of the time. The only way I ever communicated with my friends was through meet-ups and at school. We went out to play a lot including making a mess of my garden, much to the dismay of my grandpa. Interesting how old you can sound once you start reminiscing on how different things used to be “back in my days”. It’s fascinating for me to think about how there were actual teenagers throughout the 2000s who grew up with that kind of technology available to them. From my skewed perspective, it almost felt like in 2005 the world had barely any internet access, and then suddenly one year or two later it was the most important thing ever. You just had to be in on the latest thing. My first social media experience was opening a Facebook account with the help of a friend in 2009. By then, Facebook had reached high levels of popularity and every one of my friends already had an account. There were people getting interviewed on the streets with questions like “Do you have a Facebook?” and “What do you think about this recent Facebook craze?” It feels so weird to look back on all of that now.
Being able to communicate with friends online through the old Messenger was quite an experience at first. I couldn’t believe that now I actually can talk to all my friends from school whenever and chat about homework and all that. For better or for worse, this opened a whole new world. There were so many scams and viruses during that time going around and the kind of unregulated hatred that was going around everywhere (not that it’s much different now) was definitely a little too much to handle for 11 year old me. I suppose kids nowadays also go through this trial-by-fire scenario as well. But being online at such an early age and exploring through the same sites that grown adults have obvious access to and are online at all times, can’t possibly be a good thing for your mental growth.
Not long after I got a Twitter account as well, which I still use to this day. Though, generally, most non-native English-speaking people seemed kind of turned away from Twitter for a long while. This is why, I didn’t really start using it until the mid-2010s, once I felt like I had mastered English. Now, even thinking about Facebook (a.k.a. Meta) I immediately think of misinformation and propaganda. That’s just me personally though basing my opinion on personal experience and just seeing how this one social media site has affected so much of the real-world perception. Either way, it’s clear that as time has passed the online world has become vital in shaping identities while both helping and hurting people’s mental health problems.
Hindsight is 20/20
Naturally, looking back on everything from where we’re standing right now in 2022 might be a little cringe for just anybody.
Funny enough, I used to go to internet cafes, where I mostly used to play Y8 and Counter-Strike games with my friends. I get weirded out a bit when I think about the fact that for kids born from 2010 and onwards the internet is simply part of existence. Having an iPad or iPhone as a three-year-old is just normal now. Not saying that it’s either a good or a bad thing. Ultimately, it feels like older people trying to lecture the younger generation on anything only makes them sound that much older and bitter. Although, not that there aren’t plenty of kids enjoying the outdoors today, that certainly does feel like more of a thing of the past.
In the end, it’s just fun to think back on how the time when you were born allowed you to be in this weird situation where you remember a time before the internet was the most important thing ever. And yet, it has also gradually become such a vital part of your own life now that those memories almost feel like a semi-forgotten dream. I am very grateful for being able to exist in this “online generation”. Noting is better than having the entire world at my fingertips at all times, even with any downsides that may come with it.
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