One of my friends and I sometimes despair for kids growing up today, because everything they do is documented. Everything. There’s always someone with a phone taking their photo, or a video, or something, and listen, there are things that happened in college (and even in high school) that I would not want documented. I mean, did you behave yourself at every single party you attended in college? Did you not ever get so drunk you decided it was a very, very good idea to eat a rotten jack o’lantern that had been sitting on someone’s porch for a month (not me) or fill up a bathtub where someone had passed out with water until the guy almost drowned (hell, not me, this one pissed me off, I pulled the guy out of the tub, I didn’t want to be played by Tori Spelling in the Lifetime movie that would inevitably be made about the drowning of the drunk kid, probably titled “Mother May I Bathe with Heineken”) or pee behind some trees because you couldn’t wait to get home and then realize the backside of the trees was in direct view of a very busy road and, therefore, so were you (out of respect for the person this happened to I will refrain from commenting on the identity of the person who decided this was a smart idea.) (It was me.) Anyway, these all happened before phones with cameras were everywhere, thank all of our lucky stars. The last thing I’d want is a video of me mooning the bar district at just barely legal drinking age to surface when I was fifty-five, or something.
The kids now, though, I guess they’re used to it? Are they always ready for their close-up? Is it just expected that it’s going to happen, so they might as well deal with it? Is that why they’re so careless about sexting and such? Because listen, that is never, never a good idea. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, kiddos, but sending racy texts to someone, or nude photos, is going to end badly. There’s one person you can trust in this world, and it’s yourself, and you don’t have any need to sext yourself, now do you? You could just look in the mirror, or talk to yourself, or something. At some point, your relationship is going to end, and bam, revenge material. Or someone’s going to get their hands on those things and bam, what you thought was sexy is all over the papers. Remember Prince Charles telling Camilla he wanted to be her tampon? Yeah, when he was saying it, he thought it was sexy. Now it’s all I can think of when I see him. Think of that the next time you’re tempted to send nudie pics to your latest fling.
There are things about the Internet that are completely enjoyable, though. Of course, the usual suspects: instant communication with far-flung friends; social networking; media in a flash. Also:
Acronyms. As someone who loves language, I have a love/hate relationship with these. OK, first, listen, we had these before the Internet, you know. We had fubar (which I still love beyond all that is rational) and snafu (again, love – I like the ones that have a cuss in them, because I could always get away with saying them around adults and not get in too much trouble) and SCUBA. (Does anyone but me remember Alex Keaton teaching Mallory how to remember what SCUBA stood for on Family Ties? I can still immediately spout out “Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus!” on cue.) On the one hand, they’re dumbing down our speech. The first time I read “LOL” I had to ask someone what it meant. When they told me “laughing out loud” I had a long discussion with them about how stupid that was. Because I am a grammar nerd. “Writing ‘I love that LOL’ isn’t even grammatically correct. ‘I love that laughing out loud?’ Shouldn’t it be, ‘I love that, I’M LOL?’” Needless to say, what I thought didn’t matter, and LOL is everywhere. The thing that makes me laugh (or, LOL, to get with the lingo) is when people say it out loud. I worked with a kid once who, during a conversation we were having, looked at me very seriously after I’d said something funny and said, “LOL.” Our conversation after this occurred:
Me: Did you just SAY LOL?
Me: People don’t SAY LOL. This isn’t a chatroom. We’re at work.
Him: EVERYONE says LOL.
Him: It saves time.
Me: Wouldn’t actually LAUGHING be quicker?
Him: You are old.
Yes, yes, I am old. (On The Good Guys - which was actually very enjoyable, was I the only one who watched this? - Bradley Whitford's character told someone "Saying OMG doesn't save you ANY TIME." I loved him for that.) So old, in fact, I often have to look up what things mean. SMH, for example. People started using this one a lot on Facebook recently. I think it’s kind of unnecessary – I mean, if you say something sarcastically, that should come across, right? Do you need to add that it made you shake your head?
However, I find acronyms kind of fascinating. They save time! They are innovative! And they brought us FTW and FML! These are two acronyms that I really, really enjoy. I propose a new one, though: FMGWAC. This is a Heathers acronym. (You can figure it out. I have faith in you.) I think we should start using it. It is never not appropriate. Just pop this into your next IM or Tweet or whatever and let’s get this thing trending.
Awesome YouTube Videos. I’m sure there are a million of these, but I’m going to use one example: Charlie the Unicorn. I had no idea this even existed until recently (yes! I know! I’m old!) and my brother showed it to me. I was then immediately ashamed I was unaware of the awesomeness until now. You’ve all seen this, right? If not, here:
Now, you have successfully wasted time, and you know why when I hear anyone say anything in that breathy, cult-follower voice, I am immediately in hysterics. Also, I’m fairly sure if a guy were to drop “Shun the nonbeliever, shunnnnn” on me at a bar or something, it would work better than any pickup line could ever hope to.
Memes. I kind of adore Internet memes. I find them fascinating. I love "All your base are belong to us" and I love "Son I am disappoint" and I love the LiveJournal Splice Review. If you haven't read that, you need to click. You will be thanking me for days. FOR DAYS, ADRIAN BRODY. FOR DAYS.
Internet Shopping. What did I do before I could do this? (Well, I can tell you one thing, I had a lot more money in the bank.) I hate people, you see. I hate crowds; I hate salespeople asking if they can help me; I hate going somewhere and finding out they don’t have what I’m looking for; I hate store hours. The Internet is always open. There are often coupon codes. It gets delivered to my door. And there is anything you ever wanted. You are not limited to the things in your town; you can shop any town, anywhere. It is all available to you (well, if you have the money for it; I’m not saying you could get an antique crystal chandelier if you’re unemployed, or anything, so don’t go too crazy saying “But I read this BLOG saying I could get ANYTHING ONLINE.”)
Google. Yes, we had dictionaries, before the Internet. But when we wanted to look up the lyrics to a song? We had to wait until it came on the radio, then record it, and listen to it over and over and over and kind of guess at the parts we weren’t sure at. (“He dada all for the glory of love?” “No, probably did it all.” “It sounds like dada.” “Why would he be saying that?” “I don’t know. Why don’t you ask Peter Cetera that? I didn’t write the song.”) What if you wanted to look up what year the television series The Greatest American Hero aired? Or how much an elephant weighs? Or how to potty-train your cat? There was not one reference guide for everything. The library was helpful, sure, but it wasn’t all in one PLACE. Google is all in one place. And it is awesome. Also, I’m fairly sure they own my soul right now, because I use their products more than anything in the world. They can have it. I don’t think I’m using it for much.
Internet Dating. Where else could we meet complete strangers who would reject us? Before Internet dating, we just had friends of friends who would! Or people you met in bars, or something! Now, complete strangers, who may or may not want to cut you up into little pieces and throw you into their air ducts, want to take you out, expect you to sleep with them for the price of a cheap dinner (or, for a trip to Borders, not that that ever happened to anyone I know or anyone who is writing this right now!), and then never call you again because you were more compatible online than in person! Oh, the freedom!
Yes, the Internet: a glorious place for people to argue, hook up, send naughty photos, and shop, all from the comfort of their own living room. All we had when I was a kid was the Oregon Trail. And my settlers kept dying of dysentery. Which was kind of funny when I would name my entire team after the kids in my class I hated, and then not buy them enough supplies to make it to their destination. (Aw, Kenny has died of ague? Throw him out of the wagon! We got trailblazing to do! Hi-ya!)