On the Internet and Community

On the Internet and Community

In many ways, I think that ‘my’ generation was made for the internet, or perhaps the internet was made for us. This has many negative connotations sociologically and in greater pop culture, portraying us as short-attention-spanned, gossipy, pop-culture junkies. In my own litle realm of existence, though, the internet is a social and informational haven for someone who never quite knows how to operate in the wider world. There’s a community feeling for a certain group of personality types that crave interaction and information in a way they can shape and control themselves.

Take, for example, Bill and myself. We are two very happy internet-dwellers. Our first forms of communication were Twitter, email and instant messaging. Day-to-day, we can both be found reading blogs, lurking on (me) or responding to (him) forums for our particular interests, researching any and all concepts. Our photographer, caterer, printer, and attire for the wedding were all discovered online. We both have not-very-active blogs, very active Twitters, and our own stable of go-to sites for information on that which interests us. On any given car ride, one or both of us will go to the ‘tubes to research a question that’s arisen during conversation, whether it be why that car had an ‘untitled vehicle’ tag or how French gun laws will impact the sister of the girl married to that one prince. Bill even proposed to me via our common internet interests; without the Frogpants Network, there would be no Scott Fletcher recording for me to look back on forever : ) At work or Bill’s school, I can make conversation about almost any recent news or pop culture event just by being well-read (even if uninterested) as the stories pour through my RSS reader.

There is a rush being able to access almost any information, right at my fingertips. Whether it’s an insta-download from Kindle, the lacrosse roster through my smartphone or Wikipedia on the iPad, knowledge is so easy to access. Rather than making us lazy, though, it’s made us savvy researchers and consumers of media. There are plenty of folks my age that just use internet-equipped phones to watch TMZ and send sexts, but those that are in the world to learn and understand, can and it’s easier than ever.

While ‘we’ may be thought of as the internet generation, I don’t think I can claim it for just our age group. The young un’s are nipping on our heels, creating new media and interactions that I’m sure my aging brain won’t be able to handle, while both Bill and I’s moms are proficient bloggers that have their own uses for social media. Even my dad has mastered the Google when he wants to watch train videos or look up when the next Rangers game will be on.

In fact, I wish the internet had come around sooner, or that Bill and I had come around a little later, because my mom would’ve been an awesome mommy-blogger and it would’ve been good for her as well. It’s no surprise that I, an internet dweller by social choice, am the offspring of a social, researching, community-driven woman. Without the internet, though, she was disconnected from the sort of self-collected community we can create nowadays that would’ve been such help to her as she lived 30 minutes outside of town in the woods, dealing with precocious infant me and toddler Josh while Dad worked out of town. All of the crafts, books and activities she invented for Josh and me would be pinned like crazy today, not to mention all of our extensive summer camping trips and home building/renovations. The internet is a wonderful way to make distance and isolation retreat, one which I think would’ve been great for the Mancks in the Pineywoods. Mom could’ve totally been the Pioneer Woman, Katie from Marriage Confessions, Young House Love and more, all rolled into one. She’s a great, conversational writer; she would’ve been a mommyblogger extraordinaire.

I can look now at the community Mom’s working to create through her blog (visit her at booksyalove.blogspot.com) and Twitter (@booksyalove), recommending young adult books now that she’s retired from in school librarianship, and I’m astounded at a) how well she’s adapted to a new approach to community and b) the following she’s already grown. She’s constantly chatting with authors, making connections with publishers and starting conversations, all from she and Dad’s place in Florida, on her little desk and netbook, miles away from any of them or even the Manck homestead.

Perhaps I should say instead of my generation being made for the internet, that my internet-generation was made for each other and community. We are not just a group of people that happened to born at the same place in the timestream as a traditional generation, we are a group of people that entered and interacted with the internet-stream and thus found and recognized kindred in each other, regardless of age or date of birth.

We are not necessarily all on the same forums nor do we all have even vaguely intersecting interests, but we are from the same crop, the same batch of larger personality types. We want to be able to find and track information, to meet and understand each other, to interact with authors, musicians, actors that were once difficult or impossible to communicate with, all at the speed of thought. We quest for knowledge and understanding, we find and share insights, we ask and seek answers, we talk about minutiae and major life events. We find each other from this link or that, cross-referencing and discovering new groups, new interests, podcasts, blogs, vlogs and more.

No matter whether we’re Nerdfighters, Frogpantsers, Bloghers, something else entirely or nothing else in name, my internet-generation was definitely made to be here and I’m so glad.

P.S. Yes, I know we’ve gotten married since I blogged back whenever and I haven’t talked about it at all. We’ll see if I get back into blogging or if this just arose of its own volition. Regardless, we got married, it was wonderful, and marriage is awesome : )


One thought on “On the Internet and Community

  1. Thanks, Birdie! I remember how awed I was in library school at the idea of hyperlinks that could take readers off in non-linear directions (and using punchcards in FORTRAN class in high school). So amazing that we can create and publish and share across so many boundaries. DFTBA! love, Mom

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