“October 29th, 1969 is the day the internet was born did you know that?” said the husband. I have seen pups don that look when out and about in sunny meadows with a new bone to boot.
“Google icon huh?!”
I suppose life has taught him to take in his leaping enthusiasm with our barely noticeable uh-huh with equanimity. “Hey! Let’s try again. Today is the birthday of the internet!”
“No….just fun fact. Oct 29th, 1969 – The first-ever computer-to-computer link is established on ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet. And then in 1974, the first protocol for communicating over the Internet was conceptualized. T-C-P – tada! Finally, in November 1977, the internet was functional as the ARPANET for the Defense.
“It wasn’t until the late 1980’s and 1990’s even that the internet was functional the way we know it!”, he said awe dripping from him. “I suppose in a way we were the perfect generation to see the wave take off.”
“So you guys are as old as the internet?! Oh my gosh – that is so old!” quipped the little fellow, mentally slotting us with the dinosaurs. “How did you guys live without the internet? ” , said he puzzled. He has taken to asking Google Home all sorts of things during the day:
“Okay Google – what is the atomic number of Boron?”
“Okay Google -what is the time right now?”
“Okay Google – tell me a Halloween joke.”
“Well – we lived quite well I suppose.” said I, throwing in a bit of philosophy about the simple life needing few things other than sustenance for the body and the mind. “We did not need the internet to entertain ourselves. We played outside, made forts out of mud, ran around, and had fun all the same. No battles on that game of yours – Clash Royale is it?! We battled it out with sticks and stones.” I said, and the more I talked about our lives pre-internet, the more I realized that humanity had truly passed a technological milestone. It was like the power of electricity – it changed our lives forever, and though life is possible without electricity, it has become so much harder to sustain without it. Looking at the children born after the age of the internet, I realized that connectivity is much the same for these children.
“You want to know what I did with the Internet today?” asked the teenage daughter.
“I’ll show you!” she said in her effusive tones. There was then a rather jerky video of her popping into her mobile phone’s camera from various angles – one upside down and by the sounds of it rather clumsily, for we heard a dull thud followed by an “oww”.
“Not my best video – but how about this one? ” She then went on to show us another jumpy jerky video with some sort of a meme thrown in for good measure. I groaned.
“What is this?! Does anyone even see stuff like this? Tick tock is it?” I looked appallingly at her, and said, “Oh goodness child! You don’t tell me you actually posted this!”
I feel it is worth noting here that the App is called TikTok, not Tick-Tock as I thought up until a minute ago when I went looking for the wikipedia entry – sigh! I am as old as the Internet I suppose!
“For your information Amma, tons of people see this stuff. It is original see? This is the one that is going viral now. Already 30,000 likes and 100,000 views.”, she said, proud of herself.
My jaws dropped. “For this?!”
“Supportive. Mother. Supportive – remember?”
“But I’ve seen plenty of videos – even your own that are much better than this – even the one you showed us before where you banged yourself on the floor by the sound of that dull thud had a comical quality to it. ” I said, and she laughed hard, agreeing wholeheartedly.
“Fame doesn’t need merit Mother.”
“Fame is a fickle friend Harry!” said I in a brilliant imitation of Professor Lockhardt from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
“Fame is as fame does!” said she, and we all laughed.
“Just goes to prove that all our inventions and resources take on a life of their own, and that is what will keep us busy as a race I suppose.” I said.
“All the brilliant protocols developed and conceptualized for dumb Tick-Tocks like this to go viral. What is the world coming to?” said the husband.
“What a tangled web we weave when we choose to connect?” I said paraphrasing not Shakespeare as it turns out, but William Scott in the poem Marmion, and looking around proudly for acknowledgement. Completely lost on the group of course. I sighed and continued – there are times when you explain your jokes and times you don’t. Not when something viral is competing for attention.
“Poor appa! Let’s throw him a bone and listen to him about the philosophy of the internet dears. ” said I, and we listened to him as he explained – his own fascination overtaking him, about how the internet developed and (d)evolved into what it is today.
Here is an interesting video with all the leading websites over time.
How we will continue to evolve is anybody’s guess, which leads me to a wonderful essay I read by Ursula Le Guin on the different types of fantasy. (coming up next)