Technology did not hold a significant role in my childhood. At school, I remember being exposed to educational computer games and Microsoft Paint, but never the internet. My parents had never used a computer in their lives or had cell phones, so the world was very analog to me. My mom and dad occasionally have their “digital immigrant” moments such as my dad asking to turn on the Wi-Fi in the car because he has trouble grasping the concept of Wi-Fi (Bauerlein).
I remember learning how to type the proper way in school on old, outdated computers while brand new Mac computers were sitting on a separate part of the room collecting dust. Once I was about ten years old my parents purchased a desktop for me and my siblings to utilize and we all self-taught ourselves the ways of the internet. I do not recall using the internet for educational reasons until high school where we used it to find resources for research papers. As being a student who attended inner city schools throughout their whole life, technology was not a part of my curriculum, and now I ask myself “why wasn’t I exposed to this earlier?” When I took a media course for the first time in high school, I was surprised my school had access to so many programs like Photoshop and Adobe Final Cut Pro where I learned how to edit pictures and video. My generation was not as familiar with technology as kids who are digital natives today are as mentioned in Digital Natives: where is the evidence? This all proves that technology is revolutionizing the world! When I attended my high school their media program was unheard of, and now the program receives attention from PBS. Technology surpasses expectations and is so integrated in my life today that I cannot think of how I used to live without it.
When I was exposed to the social part of the internet experience I was astounded to see how many people one can find online! You did not necessarily have to be friends with a person in order to be friends with them on Myspace. Social media broke many physical barriers and introduced individuals to the concept of virtual life, or having a separate identity online than you do in real life. I think it is no secret that most people feel more comfortable behind a screen than in front of an actual person and that has molded a society full of tech-savvy introverts. Social media sites opened up a whole globe full of individuals to interact with at an instant. This idea did not seem bad at first, but then the realization that one could literally be anyone they wish to be online made the internet a place to approach with precaution. Sites like Myspace and Facebook introduced individuals to issues such as privacy and identity theft because one can find almost anything they need to know about a person online.
Personally, I became a regular to a site called Reddit where there is an endless amount of separate sites or “subreddits” where individuals can discuss topics of interest with others from all over the world! However this site is predominately male and I discovered that a lot of female users feel like they do not receive the same treatment as men when they post something. In Cybersexism, Laurie Penny speaks about aspects of sexism on the internet and how this affects how women identify themselves on the internet.
Altogether, this course has expanded my horizon to different aspects of how people experience the internet, or if they experience the internet at all. It also helped me identify my role in this digital divide.