Hello. My name is Peter. As someone who was raised on the Internet, I’m not surprised that an artist took the time to create this video and then posted it online for everyone to see. The idea of someone walking into the room and saying “You’ve been doing what exactly online for ten and a half hours straight?” isn’t exactly something foreign to me.
I remember the calling card of my parents coming home. It took them a few minutes to realize that I was glued to my computer screen for the past few hours.
“Peter! Get off that stupid screen! How long have you been doing that? Go outside and get a life! That thing isn’t going to get you anywhere! Stop playing those stupid games! Do I have to turn it off?! You are going to ruin your eyes! You don’t have time for this shit! You are going to regret it when you are an adult!”
A little voice inside me remembers the frustration I felt when they yelled.
“You definitely do not get what is so important about me doing this right here and right now! What the hell do you know?! You’re old people!”
And now, I am becoming the old person. Time was always anchored into my parent’s requests for me to get offline. To them, time wasn’t something you got back after spending it online for as long as I did. Something was definitely different about my perception of what was happening and what they saw happening. We both had different ideas of what spending time online was all about.
For your viewing pleasure and a quick change of pace, a conversation I recently had with my best friend over Facebook messages.
My best friend –
My best friend –
“I think I did a Jenkins.“
“You didn’t get into Pharmacy school? I’m so sorry. :*(“
Did you understand the conversation that just happened? If not, don’t feel bad. If it wasn’t for the incredible amount of time I’ve dedicated to the Internet, I wouldn’t have understood it either. My buddy and myself didn’t hyperlink any of the references in the conversation, but we knew what each one of them meant and signified. There was a social currency being shared here which takes lots of time to observe and understand.
Allow me to translate
My best friend and I had this conversation the day that he was rejected from the Pharmacy school he was dreaming of. At the time, we were both on the cusp of twenty nine to thirty years old. He had returned to college after realizing that a degree in computer science wasn’t the thing for him. He had toiled for three years to redo a chemistry degree (and was rewarded with an almost perfect science GPA). He applied to some good pharmacy schools. They didn’t want him. This was a shock to both of us. I was initially praising his hard work, and telling him how well he did. Then he reported his failure and cursed. I expressed my anger at his situation, while showing my solidarity. He finished the conversation with cursing his failure and with a popular online prank to show that he wasn’t too sad about it. Afterwards, I finally typed a sentence in what I consider conventional, plain English.
My apologizes if it was a little hard to understand. It’s not that two full grown, educated men want to play with some form of obscure internet Pig Latin or to confuse strangers when we talk. There is meaning for us in those strange little memes and curious references that we share with each other everyday. For most, that meaning is lost in translation. You just don’t have that relationship with those particular sounds and images that my best friend and myself have.
In order to get what we’re saying…
It is a conversation that is unique to our shared experience of the internet and how we have used it to entertain ourselves. It shows the meaningfulness of the relationship that we are co-creating with the technology around us and it’s impact on who we are today. It shows the how the time we have spent living our lives through a means which has not existed before in human existence. I find it hard to believe that anything else has so dramatically changed the meaning of time changed so much as the Internet has.
I argue that the Internet in many ways is both timeless and moving so quickly, that it’s changing everything around itself at an inhuman pace. This conundrum of existing both rapidly and statically is a dilemma that creates a number of cultural, social, psychological and human quandaries which we still don’t know how to deal with.
The world of the internet has become popular and populated for roughly the last twenty years. The exact age where things really became popular and meaningful on the Internet is a full on debate. Many histories exist that explain when and where meaning was created during the formation of the Internet. Many interpretations can occur when coexisting in a reality which is becoming faster and more complex. I think that while it’s these types of interpretations and understandings that will give us a more nuanced view of what the Internet is and where it’s taking us, I also feel that we are going to have to slow down and look at some cases of Internet use in order to get a fuller meaning of what the Internet creates for us in our day to day life. I’ll be using myself as a basis for many of these interpretations, and hopefully the Internet will provide the rest. At this point of the project, I guarantee it. I also plan on discussing time spent on the Internet. I doubt I’ll discuss it in the form of too much or too little. Rather, I prefer exploring the impact and meaning that time takes as we view it through the lens of technology which has the potential to alter the perceived flow of time for people all over the world. Once you change the meaning and significance of time, especially with technology, interesting things are bound to happen – for example, take the parody video I started this article with. How many people enter such a dark place because they want to spend just a little more time leveling up in a game or watching something online? Have you ever realized eight hours passed by working on a project, or that you watched three seasons of a show without taking a break?
Am I uniquely qualified?
As someone who has been using the internet almost daily since the age of thirteen, I might be uniquely qualified to ask a few questions about the Internet. It almost seems like a birthright. I’m reaching the point in my life where I’m reflecting on my emerging adulthood and I’m looking to how all those things which got me here, and how those things will get me where I want to be. My Internet use may or may not be an advantage to this attempt at understanding the impact of the Internet on our lives. I’m not a computer scientist, hacker, programmer or multimedia specialist. I’m not even a psychologist, sociologist, anthropologist or businessman. I’m a social worker. That’s someone whose role is to advocate for the needs of the underprivileged and under served. Part of my role is finding new and practical, therapeutic ways to support others in their suffering and pain.
The old saying “Time heals all wounds” comes to mind if we consider how a social worker might use time to help someone heal. The only thing is, is that it’s not so true when we practice. Some theorists actually believe that it’s not the time, but the relativity of the time to what you are dealing with that matters. You create the time it takes to heal from something. Time isn’t even quite understood as a concept of physics, let alone a philosophical one. There exists a very relative and personal experience that each and every one of us has with time, even before we factor the use of technology into the equation. What does this mean both for social workers and for the Internet? What knowledge exists when we explore how the Internet impacts our views of not only time, but of ourselves, our expectations for life, and our own perceptions and beliefs about the world?
As I’ve grown up co-existing in a world of urls and dot coms. I many times find myself frustrated and confused with how many people approach and use the technology around them. Some people are completely unaware of it’s impact, and some use technology to take advantage of others. Many of the people who want to do the advocating are themselves blissfully unaware of the meaning and relationships people create with the technology they are immersed in daily, much to the detriment of their own goals. I think that between my ability to be a professional social worker and my lived experience of the Internet I may find a way to create some knowledge into what actually constitutes a healthy relationship with the Internet, technology and the modern world we live in. There was no instruction booklet when I first logged on and began my relationship with the Internet many years ago. Well, technically, there were instructions on how to log on via my dial up modem on the backside of the AOL CD mailed to my house, like practically every other house in the United States. I hope to show that those are not the only type of instructions or knowledge that one needs to be healthy in relation to the Internet and Technology.
Just for the sake of transparency, I’m not sure at this point that I have had a healthy relationship with the Internet in the past, and possibly even in the present.The future is to be determined. As they say, “Time will tell”.
My internet resume
During high school I logged a solid five to six hours daily on the Internet. My very first car ride to college was spent gleefully imagining all of the time I was going to spend online without being told to go to sleep or clean my room from my parents. I emailed my first crush from a free email address incessantly during freshman year of college, while staying on the computer the most of the time instead of going to classes. My first girlfriend was obtained by messaging her via social networking after hearing how beautiful she was from a mutual friend. We subsequently blocked each other online after 6 months of dating, leading to some some absolutely embarrassing online and offline exchanges. These were mostly my fault. I also dated on numerous dating websites, I dare you to find those profiles, which many would say were an compete waste of time. As of now, I’m not so sure.
I was a prolific troll and trickster on numerous forums and chat rooms, so much so that people went out of their way to find out who I really was (and I even posted my real name and home address on a few of those sites). I still haven’t gotten anything positive in my life for the time I spent doing that. I have missed college classes due my important schedule of computer games and streaming Pod-casts; I have lost days to watching and re-watching J- and K-Pop on YouTube, downloading anime and porn off torrent sites and exploring the existence of Bigfoot online with fellow Squatchers. If I listened to my mom, I’ve supposedly done every mistake in the Internet book, sans naked pictures of myself online or giving away my credit card information. Hopefully those do not exist online without my knowledge at this time.
Supposedly, I have spent way too much time online and not enough time living my supposed life, if you were to ask anyone who would look from a distance and with a narrow view of what makes someone an adult and successful.
My real life resume
And yet here I stand today, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, finishing my practice doctorate in Clinical Social Work at Rutgers University, at an extremely young age, which leaves plenty of time to get things right in my life. I have a successful career, strong clinical skills and a wonderful personal life. In the end, the time I invested into the Internet has given me numerous benefits and promising life situations. Even being in this doctoral program can be boiled down due to random, time consuming searching of the Internet with no real purpose or intent. I ran into a random doctoral program in Social Work online at Rutgers which was looking for candidates. Who knew? All I did was Google “doctoral programs around New York” on an absolute whim after drinking a few beers after a hard day at work.
Let’s waste some time together productively
Despite my incredible waste of time online, there are people who didn’t quite waste as much time, but still aren’t here to reap the benefits of their lives. Think of Tyler Clementi, or any number of high school, college aged, or adult persons who have killed themselves over drama on the Internet or with information garnered from the Internet. Even when someone as high profile as the former South Korean president committed suicide, his blog and time spent online was mentioned in the news articles about his death. I personally know at least three people whose families were impacted severely by suicides related to Internet related issues. What do we do about those relationships to technology, or at least, how do we make meaning of them?
What does time tell us about the experience of growing up and living in a world where everything is faster, easier, more instantaneous, and essentially more omnipresent and immortal, then ever before? All this, in a space which it takes almost no time or effort to find impressive amounts of information about pretty much anything. In a place where time is very ill-defined. This is why I want to explore with you what it means to be someone who is in the unique space of growing old in a world where my youth and understanding of the world is defined by some of the biggest technological advances of all time.
Now, please excuse me.
I’ve got to get back to Nyanning.