Last week, on “Days of Our Internets”
25 April, 2006
My mom's always been computer- and internet-savvy. She worked at IBM in the early 80s. She would chastise people who forwarded chain letters before anyone knew from Snopes. Now, she's a googler. Something will remind her of someone from the past, and she'll…just…FIND them. And, since her past involved working at the school that my sister and I attended (which was also where she met my stepfather, who was my English teacher — it's a long story), she'll call me for another fun round of "Guess Who I Found?" Now, thanks to me, my mom has a new toy, flickr. Last week she found another sibling pair who went to aforementioned school, and instead of calling she sent me a photo of the sister all brided out (you look absolutely beautiful, R) with subject line "L00K!!" A few weeks ago, she found the guy who taught history to the three of us, who is now a PhD in Asian history living in the DC area.
Before the internets running into people from your past randomly was a big deal. It remained a big deal as the net grew, well into the 90s (and perhaps beyond), because it was such a geek thing that only geeks were findable on it. But when my mom rediscovered the K.'s, so soon after rediscovering Mr. er, Dr. Kushner, it occurred to me that this is just the shape of life now. You know someone, you lose touch, you get curious, you find, you resume contact. It's moved from unusual event to common happening. And the feeling of these current recontacts is going to get rarer as fewer and fewer people will have pre-internet and post-internet lives. People growing up in this world will never know how miraculous it used to feel. Is this a loss? I don't think so. (I think mix tapes are more of a loss.) But it is a change.
Also last week, I had another sure-to-become-common experience for the first time: helping your ex with his online dating profile. And vice versa, P. also gave me feedback on mine. It was fun, and felt very Cyrano; I could almost write his blurbs for him, since I know him so well in that precise context. I guess that's usually true of people in our positions, "friendly exes" have always been in a position to do that sort of thing, but the opportunity has never been so blatant.