A Few Reasons Why I’m Glad That Al Gore Didn’t Single-Handedly Invent the Internet Until I Was Already Grown Up

My non-hipster cousin Andrew and I were talking about… well, okay, I’ll talk about Andrew first. I love this boy. He’s about to be a senior in college, and right now he’s living in New Jersey and commuting to Manhattan for his internship every day. And he’s not even living in that part of Jersey that’s within spitting distance of the city. I mean, are you kidding me? After a foreverlong commute like that, I’d just find some bar and lament about public transportation all day while drinking fuzzy navels and playing with my split ends. But no, he does the commute and THEN he goes to work. He’s my hero. In time, he may even restore our family’s good name. It will be tough, as I’ve had almost a decade headstart of corrupting it, but I have faith in him.

He’s just about eight years younger than me, newly 21, and it’s starting to feel like there isn’t a huge, gaping amount of years between us anymore. I’ve been waiting for this because he’s always been such a blast to hang out with that I just knew he was going to be the coolest adult (read: drinking buddy). When he was 12, I’d take him to see Adam Sandler movies and to chain restaurants and let him have like seven Shirley Temples, but I was 20 and we just didn’t have a whole lot in common at those ages, as I was dealing with much more adult issues like whether or not my floormates and I should smoke before or after the Stanton basement party tomorrow night and where my light blue/dark blue Grumpy Bear ringer t-shirt was.

I always used to wish he was my brother, but it’s probably a good thing that he wasn’t. Despite the age gap, I just know that the “why can’t you be more like your brother?”s would’ve started before he was even able to sit upright. He’s inherited my father’s exact brain, which seems unfair because he’s yet another person in my family who possesses that infuriatingly effortless brilliance that eludes me, and you know what else? He’s athletic. And tan. Are we even related? Anyway, I should enjoy him now, before he graduates and he’s making five times what I make while simultaneously being drafted for the NFL or something.

Anyway. The thing we were talking about is how wired his childhood was, compared to mine. Wired, not weird; that’s a whole different topic. When I was in high school, as is also the case for most of you, we didn’t have the internet, cell phones, or reality TV, not that the latter can be counted as progress. Seriously, how ancient will that lack of technology make us seem to our kids? “You mean when you stood in line at CVS you just STOOD there without having anyone to talk to on the phone?”

I was just watching, ahem, Indecent Proposal, and remember the part where Woody Harrelson goes barreling through the hotel because he’s decided that he doesn’t want to go through with the, well, indecent proposal, and he ends up running out onto the roof just as the helicopter containing his wife is taking off and whisking her away to the sex boat? Nowadays he could’ve just called her, cancelled the, uh, transaction, and saved himself the trouble of having to buy a million dollar hippo to get her back in the end.

What, you didn’t see it? Oh, you should. It’s terrible. And I know technology is mostly good, if only for having a handy way of keeping your wife from getting on Robert Redford, but there are some reasons that make me glad that all of it didn’t exist when I was younger.

1. I would’ve been all about the internet porn. Not so much because I’m a sexual deviant, although sure, that would’ve come into play at some point. But mostly because it’d be easily accessible and oh my GOD what IS that?!?! I mean, my friends and I used to pore over the phone sex ads in the Boston Phoenix, thinking it was the raciest stuff EVER. And if Al Gore had come through earlier, I’m sure I would’ve been grounded twice as much as I already was for all the crazy stuff that my dad would be able to tell I was looking at online (you can always tell when you share a computer, right?).

2. Email/instant messenger/MySpace politics. Do you know that on MySpace, you can organize your friends in order of how much you like them? Imagine the logistics of this in high school, when everyone simultaneously loves and hates and dates each other. I can just hear my girlfriends’ voices: “And then I looked at his MySpace and he already put that slut Christina from my trig class into his number one friend slot!” Or, “So I checked and his away message said that he was out for the night. Who the hell do you think he’s with? I’m so not speaking to him tomorrow in Western Civ.” Voice mail and text message analysis nowadays is bad enough, but at least it doesn’t include psychological profiling via MySpace and instant messenger. Not that I’ve completely avoided this debacle. I have friends who perform entire seduction rituals via text message. Meanwhile, this is a typical text message from me:

hi, where (from Red, Tues 6:14 PM)

sorry. # whe8re ar we havng dinner/// (from Red, Tues 6:15 PM)

3. Like most other teenage girls, I used to be on the phone constantly, because you had to spend all night discussing everything that happened that day (which we don’t do now, at all, whatsoever). And you know that if they’d had cell phones back then, I would’ve been on mine for hours upon hours, and I have to say that I like living in a world where I don’t have to give any thought to going over my minutes or roaming charges or anything like that, because that wouldn’t have been the case if I had had a cell phone when I was 15. And I’m sure that my ringtone would’ve been Freak Me by Silk or I’ll Never Get Over You Getting Over Me or some such shit. Actually, I still feel like I’m on the phone all night long, so I suppose there hasn’t been much progress in this area. But at least I don’t rock out to Freak Me anymore. Not every day, anyway. Fine, it’s on my iPod.

4. Of course I would’ve had a blog back then, because I was made for this kind of stuff. I actually kept a journal on the computer when I was in high school, and it would’ve been a very small leap from saving it to a disk to hitting “publish post” and immortalizing myself in all my agonizing teenybopper glory. As it is, my journal entries from that time were all very specific about things that happened and conversations that were had, and it would’ve been hard to live down several years of “and then she was totally like well I don’t know and I was like what and he was like yeah.” I’ve pretty much gone from transcribing every conversation to hardly even listening to my friends when they talk. If that’s not progress, I don’t know what is.

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