It is with considerable sadness, dear readers — hello to all three of you! — that I announce that this will be my last Weekly Geekly column. When I was hired for the gig, I was an unemployed writer living in my parents’ pool house; these days, as a new, fully-employed San Franciscan, I barely have a second to breathe. And so in homage to the glories of the internet and all the ways it’s made our lives richer, fuller, and more expensive, I hereby present to you the best moments in online culture history, otherwise known as What The Internet Has Done For Me.
1. The moment I discovered you could use the internet to meet boys: It was 1995, I was 15, the internet was crazy and new. My parents signed up for America Online — dial-up, naturally — and I spent days in chat rooms, trying to be uproariously witty through the medium of typing (not an easy feat, I’ll have you know). I had long online romances with two boys — TJ from Long Island and Nick from Novato, California — and sometimes, more than 10 years later, I think of them still. Sadly, we never met. (So actually, I guess they weren’t so much long online romances as two awkward 15-year-olds talking about Pearl Jam in a chat room, but still. Humor me here.)
2. The moment I discovered you could use the internet to buy shoes: Two words: Zappos.com. (Or is that one word?)
3. The moment I discovered you could use the internet pretty much like an online diary, except you’d probably have to limit the swearing a bit: I started a blog, www.nothingbutbonfires.com, mostly because everyone else had one and I was sick of reading theirs and not writing mine. One has to remember, though, when writing a blog, that the last person you want to read it will read it. Don’t talk about your boss, your mother-in-law, or your cat. (What? You mean your cat doesn’t know how to use the internet? Teach your cat to use the internet! It’s so helpful when it comes to online bill paying.)
4. The moment I discovered you could use the internet to make money, even if it was kind of selling out: Yeah, yeah, you can judge all you want, but putting ads on my blog meant I could finally afford to get TiVo. So you just keep complaining about commercialism and the death of personal expression in that corner over there and I’ll be watching the Grey’s Anatomy you missed last night.
5. The moment I discovered that, hoo boy, there’s a whole lot of great stuff on the internet to write about, and isn’t it weird how this strange, bizarre phenomenon has changed us as a people and as a culture? Consider Google, for instance. Consider e-mail. Consider online menus that let you decide if the restaurant is really in your price range before you suggest meeting a hot date there. I mean, take any of those things away from me now and I’d be lost. We’d all be lost. The internet has insinuated itself into our lives so completely that we barely even notice its presence anymore. We use it for everything. We use it without thinking. We’re all online, 24 hours a day, our neon OPEN FOR BUSINESS signs glowing. Writing a column about online culture has meant I’ve never been short of material — it would be like being short of material for a column about breathing air or sleeping.
Now go hug your cable modem. You have a lot to thank it for.