the “internets”

Dearest ______,

I count myself lucky to have Iived through one of the biggest (if not the biggest) events in human history. More than just watching the 1900’s get shelved to usher in the 2000’s, I’m talking about how everything else had been shelved by the juggernaut that has been, or is, the Internet.

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My earliest recollection of the Internet was in 1995. I grew up in a province in the Philippines and I remember my mother bringing home a white box called a “modem” when she got back from work one day. I remember my friends and I locking ourselves inside my bedroom while we secretly “chatted” online with anyone who would give us the time of day. If we didn’t like them, we closed the window with nary a polite parting word. (X) simply marked the end of bad conversations. On the other end of the spectrum though, our crushes would also drop by the same chat forums and we’d gush at the prospect of them knowing (or not knowing) who we were in real life. And yet there they were, talking to us like they really knew us- something we’d never dream of actually happening in school.
Our first thought: wow, this is liberating.

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A few years after that, in High School, they taught us how to create websites. While my classmates were all into basic programming and whatnot, I couldn’t care about anything else but the background of “My Amazing Homepage” which I matched with glittery texts and cute icons all around. That was all the Internet had to offer me at that point. That was in 2000-2001, where aside from the mandatory e-mail adresses we had to submit in class, I hadn’t completely tapped into what was supposed to be one of the biggest libraries of information and trivialities in the planet. Today, “google” is actually a verb in the dictionary.

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It’s been almost 20 years since I first heard the crackling sound of our first dial- up modem, and yet I still find it surreal how everything before what we have and know now (the Internet in its ever- increasing/ all- encompassing force) seems like quite a blur. Is this how our parents feel when they remember how it was to actually call someone on their home telephone or send them greeting cards for their birthday… before the cellular phones? Or how they’d meet someone at a designated place and time, just expecting them to be there (no text messages saying“Where are you? I’m inside!”)?

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Thinking about the Internet, now:

What were we doing before all this?

When did we start gauging someone’s social conscience by the amount of movements and advocacies one “liked” on Facebook?

When did we start thinking ourselves impassioned supporters of fashion by following what other people wore everyday?

When did we start believing that the number of likes, re-tweets, upvotes equated to our self- worth, which oddly enough, only equates to how much we deem ourselves worthy by other people’s fickle standards?

Today, I have 3G in my tablet, 4G on my smart phone, high-speed internet connection at home, as well as at work. As hard as it is to remember how things were immensely different before all this, it is harder to imagine how we could ever live without it from hereon… Not when you can write letters inside a subway train in Singapore and get your friends to instantly read them from the United States, Europe, New Zealand, and all over the world basically.

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Love,

Karlita

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Photography and text by Author unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.

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