The Internet and I have a lot in common. We both like sex. You don’t know me, but you know the internet, so…
But that is not our only common trait. Sure we both have boobs — the Internet has larger boobs — but our common thread is even deeper than that. (Don’t read anything funny into deeper — or go ahead and I’ll blush for you.)
We are both children of 69. We are both Gen-X’rs. What does that mean to us? What does that mean to the world?
A Re-Tweet I got today got me to thinking about just that. It’s highly recommended:
How Forgotten GenX Changed the World
When the Internet and I were babies, we were both trapped in little boxes. (One day, I’ll tell you the funny story about how my mom saved money on a crib by putting me in a suitcase for six months and my aunt thought that it was cute when she closed the lid and that is why I have spent thousands of dollars on therapy for claustrophobia, but not today.)
Soon after those dark and lonely beginnings, the Internet and I both started to network around a small circle of friends within a very limited circle. In fact, both the Internet and I had very little outside interaction until our pre-adolescence with more than a delicately monitored group of protective guardians.
But then all hell broke loose. For both of us. Once we got out – we got OUT!
The trials and perils of being global have never been demonstrated as well as they have through the Internet, and in my own little life. Meeting strange and fascinating people. Meeting fascinatingly strange people. Meeting strange people. The Internet and I have done a lot of all of that.
So, when you’ve gotten out, and toured the world, and seen it’s peaks and valleys, its beauty and its ugliness, its sublime art and its subversive trash, what does that do to you?
Well, here again, the Internet and I have had strangely similar reactions. We’ve both crashed a couple of times, and gotten back up. We’ve both gotten viruses. (There’s you with your dirty mind again–think the flu and Moctezuma’s revenge — get your mind out of the gutter!)
But as Nietzsche so rightly put it: “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”
We haven’t perished, the Internet and I, despite claims that we were just a random trend, despite occasionally being ill-used and misunderstood, despite making mistakes. We’ve held strong. We’ve endured. We’ve stuck to our basic philosophy that, in the end, what the world is sorely lacking, what it needs most, what it craves even more than water, is connection.
Many years ago, when I was just an inexperienced smart-ass (now I am an experienced smart-ass), I told a male friend who was much smarter than me (aren’t they always), that this Internet thing could make lots of money for people and would be a boon for business. He laughed. “Ha! Ha! Ha! The Internet is a vehicle for education and research, it will never be commercialized,” he said.
She who laughs last laughs best, and the Internet and I are both giggling hysterically over this.
But, as any of us who have been in the depths of the commercial arena have learned, there are perilous perils for those unprepared.
I’ve recently had a very ugly wake up call to this, and for a while, it caused me to break up with the Internet entirely (even though she has been such a good friend). There be monsters. There be pirates. There be threats of every kind on every shore…(sound of Captain Ahab cackling.)
Now that we are both going through our little mid-life crisis, I’d like to impart some advice to my friend, the Internet, on how to survive and thrive and make the world a better place, no matter what Leviathans may roam the depths.
1) Promote the Common Good – even if your aim is commercial, it does not preclude you from doing good while making money.
2) Have Zero-Tolerance for Theft – property earned or created should be property kept. Persons promoting piracy are not freeing anything of anything; the only things they are free of are morals and ethics. We must ensure that all people are protected from theft, be it of money, or data, or intellectual property. All people. Always. There has been some discussion in Britain about eliminating access rights to the Internet to those culpable of Piracy Initiatives that merit serious discussion. Of course, they appear to brush up against the noble aim to ensure Internet access as a basic human right. Which I support. We should not get these things confused. Living on the planet is a basic human right, but it does not mean we let people steal things willy-nilly (unless we’re living in anarchy). Likewise, the Internet should have the right to cast out Predators. We need to. It’s a wild jungle out there and we have to join ranks and protect against intruders.
3) Be Paranoid – About Security. As the saying goes: just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. They are. Big time. Security Specialists around the world should be postponing sleep until death, because there are some major holes in the web that need mending.
4) Don’t Abandon Your Dreams – They are all you have that matters. The aspirations of the Internet, from its conception have been noble and grand. They should continue to be. Like nothing else in Human History, the Internet has the potential to be the thing that tips our consciousness over the edge and helps us achieve a greater level of enlightenment. (Dawning of the Age of Aquarius plays softly in the background and builds to crescendo.) Yes! Enlightenment, higher consciousness, the final great evolution of people living in one world thinking with many minds and once and finding wonderful revealing connections. Don’t believe me? Watch these spaces:
These are the kinds of things that would have given Carl Jung an orgasm, that would have made Joseph Campbell convulse in ecstasy. We are beginning to see connections, being given the tools to see them instantly, and what the mind does when the synapses are stimulated is truly a beautiful thing. (As Paris Hilton repeatedly points out – Intellectuals are Hot – OK? Deal with it.)
5) Be Glorious – Be Proud, Be Noble, Be Beautiful, Be Quirky, Be Yourself, Be Somebody Else, Be Whatever You Want to Be but stay Free. One of the biggest concerns I have over points 1, 2 and 3, is that, if the Internet is not adamant and intransigent about independently being all of these things, then the Conquerors will come and set up flags. This is the rule of History. Where a society (and the Internet is the largest society in Human History) is unregulated, Tyrants appear to fill in the gaps. This does not call for revolution, it calls for order, for self-regulation and for responsible pro-active citizenry.
So for her 40th Birthday, the greatest gift we can give the Internet, is to let her own her fine self, and stand proud and firm. All of us who (like me) are 69’ers (or roundabouts) have a calling to ensure this. All GenX’ers can remember a time when this was our dream, our legacy to the world, yet to be realized. Now, it is here, and we have to defend her, because let’s face it, the Boombers are tired and the Y’s and Millenials are busy with other stuff. (Like Tweeting about Twilight – God save Humanity!)
We may be, as Martin Zwilling points out, “the forgotten generation,” but we haven’t forgotten anything. We still have really good memories and pretty large balls. We are the hard salamy between two generations of white bread. No disrespect intended – I mean only that, by and large, we had it tougher than our parents and tougher than our younger siblings and offspring.
We’re lean, we’re mean, and we’re going to get this Earth Clean!
I’ve been bloodied and bruised from my travails, but that’s only made paradoxically meaner and kinder. Meaner because I’m less tolerant of nonsense and predatorial behavior. Kinder because I appreciate good people far more than I ever did. I’ve also learned that even if someone tries to tear you down to ashes, you can rise like a Phoenix when your determination knows no bounds.
The Internet can do the same, and we should support her, we should encourage her to be her own great self.
I plan to spend the next 40 years of my life being absolutely amazing, and I plan to have an absolutely amazing Internet to live my life on.
I leave you with the thoughts of a one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century:
A dame that knows the ropes isn’t likely to get tied up.
– Mae West
…and that was a Penny for Your Thoughts!