Archive for Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Older generation embraces new technology, Facebook

December 31, 2008

The Internet has had a phenomenal growth in most segments of our society since it first began.

When I was a child in the forties and fifties, it didn’t exist — at least in any kind of visible form for me and everybody else I knew. According to what I have read on Wikipedia, the beginnings of the present day world-wide communication system, known as the World Wide Web, existed in a project began by the United States in the late 1950’s. This was a way to put our nation on a fast track in information technology and catch up with a perceived lead in technology by the Soviets in launching Sputnik. That agency was known as Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as ARPA. People connected with that project began to see the value of quick and easy sharing of information.

Those early visionaries waited a good many years for this technology to take off and become common all over the world. When the World Wide Web became so easily available to most people, however, either through home computers or public use computers at libraries, schools and other places, its use exploded. There was a time when I considered fax machines and telephones as somewhat miraculous. Now, they are almost passé.

The Internet has become one of our primary sources of communication. It threatens newspapers and other print media because it is so quick and easy. It was a factor in the recent presidential election which was overlooked by many of the older generations. The Internet and cell phone provided off-the-grid publicity and funding for the winning team of Obama-Biden, which was often immune to those taking polls.

One of the most popular uses of the World Wide Web is for socialization. Sites such as MySpace and Facebook are used by huge numbers of people all over the world. They are easy to use and provide a great virtual forum for people to stay in touch with others.

My generation even uses them, but these sites are almost a social requirement for the generations of my children and grandchildren. I have a Facebook page and make it accessible to my friends and my children’s friends. My sister’s husband has a page he shares with her in Denver and their children are both on Facebook. So even though one of my nephews lives in Hawaii, where he is stationed with the Navy, and the other lives in Norfolk, Va., also stationed with the Navy, my sister and I keep up with what’s going on in their lives. I can also see and enjoy all the pictures of my local grandchildren, as well as share them with my friends.

I can’t imagine how lonely the original settlers of this land must have been. When they left their homes behind in the Old World to come to this nation, it meant they had to give up a great deal of communication and closeness. Of course, they could write letters, and many did so, but mail was extremely slow and uncertain. By the time settlers received information about their distant families, it was already outdated. Now, my husband gets frequent e-mail from his sister, living in Great Britain, and I stay in touch with my family spread across this great country from Oregon and Hawaii to Maryland and Virginia. My brother was disdainful of e-mail for a long time, but even he has given in and enjoys getting and sending e-mails from time to time. His children all revel in it, and one of them makes his livelihood designing Web sites.

Personally, I love all this interchange of news and ideas. It’s one of the new things adopted by the new generation I heartily enjoy. Now I’m going to leave you to check my Facebook page.

Comments

Jason Bailey 5 years, 8 months ago

Facebook? Seriously? I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would want to hang their life out there for the entire world to see. This is borderline narcissism to think that you're so important that anyone cares enough to read about your life -- even family.

I'm no 90-year old prude either. I'm firmly entrenched in Gen X and write software for a living so definitely no technophobe. I understand the Internet, I get how email is beneficial, I can relate to a website that conveys important information or even a forum like this on a newspaper's site -- but FaceBook or MySpace?! It's just complete idiocy and the "chasing after personal celebrity" that America has become.

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