As a millennial, I, of course, long for simpler times: I yearn for Yak Baks and NES consoles, knob hockey and the Space Jam soundtrack on loop. I remember all the first mainstream computer sh*t: 8 bit Hangman and Oregon Trail, the Hamster Dance (literally just a one-page site with endless rows of cartoon hamsters bouncing to the catchiest and worst gibberish song), Shockwave games, Napster and Limewire and MSN chat (the Canadian AOL equivalent).
F**k, technology has come a long way. Every piece of information can be found somewhere on the web. We live our lives on the web. I get my groceries and coffee and razors via online subscription. I teach dance and take piano lessons on Zoom. I get to conceptualize, perform in, and edit short films that, not too long ago would have demanded a huge budget, rigorous schedule, and skilled labor force. I remember, as a Grade Three exercise, we had to brainstorm what kinds of cool sh*t would exist in years like 2020. We were all dead set on T shirts that could change color with some kind of high fashion remote. Um... people are curing diseases and solving major world issues, while also creating some new ones. Third grade was a simple, simple time.
There have been downsides-- kids (and adults) are addicted to their game consoles. Adults (and kids) are addicted to their social media feeds. Big tech corporations, not bound by any kind of ethical code (like doctors, for instance) have intentionally manipulated the human dopamine cycle for monetary benefit, and as our lives get so much easier they also get more depressing, resentful, anxious, and foggy.
It has become increasingly hard for people to log out and unplug. I remember having to shut down our first desktop computer back in '99 every night. Now nothing shuts down. Global industry and media have no time restriction or sense of healthy boundaries. Notifications carry on unabated. People expect their texts and emails to be answered hastily and taking time for ourselves, our families, our nature escapes, and our health can be deeply stigmatized in our do-more, work-harder culture.
I remember getting frustrated with internet and computers in general, aggressively double clicking and making it worse. How long has the web been literally instantaneous? Ten years or more... I never would have thought that the tech behind those creepy dial-up sounds of 90's internet connections would evolve to change the way we do pretty much everything: the way we watch TV, send correspondence, look for work, advertise, find hobbies, date, and educate ourselves.
I'm embracing what I can about this technologically brilliant time-- learning so much and finding inspiration and community all over the web. I'm also minimizing my notifications and game time, and placing social media lower on the priorities ladder. I'm designing web pages and logos for friends, formatting manuscripts, reading memoirs and parts of history, and scrolling through Reddit and TikTok for amusement and short wisdom. The TikTok algorithm has really upped my discovery game. I've learned hair and makeup tricks, tech stuff, plant wisdom, spirit science, drawing techniques, and global news that mainstream medias tend to downplay. For now, it seems TikTok is one of the more creative social media outlets.
Yes, I'm feeling nostalgic, but I'm also happy to be here, learning from Boomers, Millennials, and Gen Z'ers alike.