My sister recently joined Facebook. It seems impossible that anyone under the age of 70 is just recently joining Facebook, but they only just got the Internet at my mom’s house. Well, we had it when I was in high school, but that was only after I got all these honors classes during my junior year and convinced my parents that I couldn’t write papers without it. This was a lie; while I did need to type all of my papers, I didn’t use the Internet to research anything until maybe my last senior project, and even then the options were limited to a few Geocities pages and some college professor who posted his entire class’ papers online. That’s right I used a card catalog! DEWEY DECIMAL SYSTEM 4 LYFE!
Anyway, sometime after I moved out, my parents and sister decided that nobody needed the Internet anymore, so they got rid of it. For almost ten years, they were Internet-less. I can’t conceive of being Internet-less for more than a day, so don’t even ask me how someone made it ten goddamn years. Do you know what happens in ten years on the Internet? Fucking everything. Every single thing on the Internet today happened within the last ten years. I mean, some of the stuff was invented more than ten years ago, but in its current state, the Internet is less than ten years old. How do you miss all of that? How do you catch up?
Because I have a blog (and a Tumblr, and a Facebook, and a Flickr that I don’t use anymore except when Tumblr wants to be an asshole about embedding photos into posts), I sometimes get asked questions about the Internet by people who don’t know much about it. These people are the ones for whom those news reports about not sharing any information about yourself online still have resonance, as if me talking about bozos at the grocery store will somehow lure a homicidal maniac into my home.
Last night, my sister asked me if it concerned me that people at work could see my blog.
I explained that very few people from work knew about my blog at all. First of all, it’s not something I publicize. Second, neither this blog nor any other Internet presence of mine is registered under the name I use at work. Third, the people at work who do know about this are my friends, and because of this, I am unlikely to talk shit about them. Most of them don’t bother reading it, anyway. Some show I don’t remember said this, but unless I’m in them or people are getting naked, I don’t need to hear about your dreams. This also applies to blogs. Except in my case, where the people who read this blog are largely people I don’t know in real life, or, if I do know them, I don’t have day-to-day contact with them. (Which means they’re reading this for non-personal and non-naked reasons, so…what are you guys doing with your lives???)
But how do you explain that to someone who doesn’t know the Internet yet? How do you explain the limitations you just sort of instinctively put on yourself? How do you explain the concept of “Internet friends” without sounding like a total fucking loser?
I’ve been writing on the Internet for about six years. During that time, I’ve accepted that while anyone can read my blog, most people will not unless I force them at gunpoint. Or unless I tell them I wrote something mean about them, and why on earth would I do that? The rules I follow are pretty simple. One, I don’t tell people I don’t particularly like about my blog. Two, I don’t reveal my full name, the name of my company, the names of my co-workers, et al. Three, I accept that anything I write can be read by people if they really want to find it, and because of this, I edit like crazy. There’s a whole separate document on my laptop filled with the dirty, bloody, way-too-personal stuff I’ve written and then discarded for a far less offensive post. This of course leads to four, which is, after all the efforts that I’ve already noted, my refusal to care about people who are offended on purpose. If you’ve sought out this blog and read it specifically to find something you don’t like about yourself, then you clearly have issues that have nothing to do with me. You probably shouldn’t be using the Internet at all, because there’s a very real chance that something you see will offend you so badly that you’ll spontaneously combust. I’m not saying you have to be brilliant at the Internet, but some are better suited for it than others.
I fucking love the Internet. I use it every hour of every day (except when I’m sleeping, although those videos of people sleeping seem to be weirdly popular). I got to use it last night, too, since it turned out that I did get to spend Christmas Eve the way I’d wanted to in the first place (at home, with premium cable and a bottle of wine)!
Speaking of premium cable and a bottle of wine, is it that Val Kilmer has been in so many movies that they’re constantly on HBO, or is there some kind of Kilmer-centric HBO effort to show as many of his movies as possible? I can’t escape all the Val Kilmer on my premium channels lately, and if you watch The Salton Sea while drunk on Beaujolais Nouveau after your sister asks you about the Internet, you’ll dream about being hired as Val Kilmer’s assistant whose primary job is to teach him how to use it. If my dreams are any indication, it’s harder to teach Val Kilmer about the Internet than it is to teach my sister.