15 April 2009 passed inauspiciously for me, just as any mid-April day usually would. Looking back on this date I realised that it was the 10th anniversary of my induction to the internet. On 15 April 1999, as I remember it, we were connected at work to the world wide web for the first time. I was enthralled by the whole thing, akin to being introduced to colour television when we bought one of these back in 1976. (And that television set lasted 20+ years, imagine any audio-visual device lasting for that long now!)
On the 15th April 1999 I received a letter from a friend who was living in England at the time and in this letter appeared his email address. "Hotmail" was a strange new word to me. That was the day, coincidentally, I set up my first email account too. It was my full-name at hotmail dot com. I discarded this address shortly afterward and instead set up firstname.lastname@example.org which I still have to this day, but rarely use. I seem to have built up a collection of email addresses since, almost unawares.
I look back and realised that, in some ways, so much has happened with my introduction to the internet. And in other ways so very little has come of it too. The problem with the virtual world is that is not "real", it has no life or true vitality of its own. To be lost in this world is to be lost in a kind of twilight zone that holds no real substance, ultimately. The key is to enjoy and use the net and to see it for what it is. I'd prefer a walk in the park anyday to meandering around facebook, and yet facebook itself holds a curious addiction of its own.
I don't believe the internet has affected my personal life very much in the space of ten years. I've gone down the online dating corridor and have had sexual relations through meeting people via the net, but none of these people have had any lasting significance for me. The three most significant women I've met in more recent times I've met in real life, either at a gig, at work, or in the music scene generally. These women, particularly the two Scorpio women, are the ones who have, in various ways, moved and substantiated my circumstances and my life. They have not been net hook-ups. They have both been very dear to me.
Then there's myspace and facebook. And of course, blogger! Blogger has been particularly advantageous for me. Through blogger I've made overseas friends and connections, I've hooked onto Steve Kilbey's blog (where I'd discovered what blogging is all about), and most of all it's given me a template to explore writing as a hobby and as a craft and to progress this skill from there. But even then, the snare of the fast-paced world of the internet threatens to draw away some of the credibility of the craft of writing. Blogging is such an immediate activity, and the nature of it is such that it doesn't allow for redrafting and reworking. In my case I usually write the blog, post it, and re-read it a few days later wishing I could rework parts of it, particularly the grammatical typos of which I'm King. I could always reword things afterward, but then, I'm too lazy. Nonetheless, blogger has been a positive experience and the blog-world has enhanced my satisfaction with life and has provided me with another outlet away from music and exercise.
I've started up another blog on WordPress but I haven't posted anything on that yet. I don't know why I did that, I just felt like it at the time I suppose. I wanted to see what the templates on WordPress looked like and to compare them with Blogger's.
MySpace has been fantastic for promotion and for getting my songs heard, and to listen to other people's music and to network. I now have an audience of 50 instead of 5. Well, that's a start. I'm hoping that the extra zeroes will be falling into place soon! But isn't that what everyone wants out of life, extra zeroes?? That's why people purchase lottery tickets, I suppose.
Then there's Facebook which is fun and a laugh and a nice place to park your car occasionally. The problem with facebook is that it sucks you in and an hour of your precious life can go by and all you've been doing is clicking about for what seemed to be five minutes. Twitter I still can't relate to, but that's a good thing. I have room in my life for two online virtual realities, myspace and facebook. There comes a time when you just have to pull your head out and dive into the real ocean, rather than diving all red-eyed into a computer screen for an indefinite period of time, to come out feeling all yucky and lethargic.
A couple of my favourite sites are www.acousticcentre.com.au and www.basscentre.com.au. They are wonderful eye candy for me. And I love newspapers and gloomer sites. You tube I enjoy sometimes. By the way I make films of singer-songwriters performing and put them up on you tube which is a fun thing to do. I love to promote people, especially people I really like.
The danger of the internet, as I see it, is the seemingly-inconspicuous email. Email is a great tool but it needs to be used cautiously and with discretion. For all of its advantages, the one problem with email is that it always reads dryly or negatively and you have to make the effort to prop up the tone of the email with exclamation marks and smileys and the rest of it. This isn't a problem in itself but when there is dispute between writer and recipient the results of email exchanges are often calamitous. I lost a friend early in the year due to email, but this was a friend whose time I knew had reached the due date. And now I've been caught in the middle of an email war between my ex-lover and a muso-mate which is totally exasperating for me, because I know that verbal communication and openness would serve to quell the situation, and at the very least, bring the parties along to some level of understanding with each so they know perfectly well where they're at with each other.
The nature of email is such that some phrases or words radiate through like fingers of hate when essentially, the author more often than not hadn't intended for the phrases or words to have come through so negatively. If I'm sending an email that is raising issues about things (and again, open discussion is a far more effective method to communicate), then I re-read and re-read the email to fine-tune and smooth over any words or phrases that may be perceived to be offensive, even if I have been in a jolly ol' mood when writing the thing originally.
There is a phenomenon called 'email-rage' that pertains to the reactive effect that emails can have on recipients, whether or not the writer had intended hostility or negativity in the first place. It's a shame that emails can read a lot more negatively than they're intended to, but that's just the nature of the e-beast. I've been guilty in the past of offending people with words I've used in this medium, and I myself have taken offense to others' emails too. But I've come to realise the nature of emails and try as best as possible to use them effectively, and to read them with a pinch of salt. Proceed with caution!
And now I might just f-around with f-book before I pick up my board and go for a surf...
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