My Online Education

When I first went online a few years ago, it took a little time for me to become comfortable with this form of communication. And I did discover that it was important for one to learn the proper online etiquette.

Amusingly, my first creative writing efforts were typed in ALLCAPS. Apparently this presented a problem for the online community, due to the fact that ALLCAPS is interpreted as yelling. I suppose that, generally, yelling is okay, just not recommended in the case of an international online venue. As online aquaintances constantly reminded of this etiquette breach, I thought "Nitpickers!!" but certainly appreciated and benefited from their input. I gradually cleaned up my writing style, the ALLCAPS format almost immediately becoming a thing of the past. Fortunately, there would later be even more subtle changes in my writing style.

Soon, online aquaintances began to ask if they could send their personal photos to me. For some reason, initially, this made me a little nervous. What was the proper online etiquette in regards to photos? Should I send a photo in return? Would it be necessary to go to the mall for one of those 'glamour shots'? Perhaps I could just send an old high school or elementary school picture, I thought. Eventually I was able to provide current pictures to my new friends, and at this point I was thoroughly enjoying experimentation with my Adobe Photo Shop and Corel Draw programs. These days, I'm probably considered to be redundant in this area, and have a feeling that my online friends might be thinking "Christ! I wish she'd stop sending me all these frickin' dog pictures!!"

Another memorable part of my initial online experience was that of posting on the newsgroup message boards. It seems that the 'newsgroups' staff and posters included a huge population of hostile, condescending people, including the 'board moderators', or 'Moderator Gods', as I came to think of them. A writer did not even have the opportunity to get read or to be officially TOSed, because one's words may not have been posted at all, after being sent and read by a moderator. It's interesting: 'The Moderator' sounds like a an action/scifi movie character; think The Terminator as one big bad mo' fo' censor. "Take THAT!" Delete! " I'll be bok."

And God forbid that a person should actually express a strong opinion on a newsgroup board! This situation could culminate in hate mail from hackers named Jason, and in public humiliation from board moderators, who apparently had splintered broomsticks up their asses.

And who could have ever anticipated the existance of Online Server Snobbery, prejudice based solely upon an email address? AOLers were considered to be the lowest of the low: alledgedly intellectually and technologically challenged.

Ahem. Well. The fact that I am an AOLer AND technologically challenged is pure coincidence! And even though I do believe in technical self sufficiency, it must be accepted that I don't have the time, energy, or desire to memorize every little detail about RAM, ROM, hard drive, soft drive, alternate drive, that other drive, bits, bytes, boops and byms, mega, ultra or otherwise. I can always keep a little reference book handy, if I am forced to discuss technology. Or perhaps I could just hire an interpreter.

I prefer to enjoy cyberspace as a creative medium, a handy means to slam and jam the world with more words. I try to not worry so much about the details of the equipment. Is it working? Is it new? Does it come in black? These are my basic issues. I will be 'upgrading' (tech term) soon, and that's all I'm saying.

I am now a major fan of the Instant Message, and think that it is just wonderful that people can talk to dear old friends, new friends, aquaintances and psychos, in little electronic boxes. Initially though, my AOL profile tended to attract a motley crew of energetic male Instant Messagers. They seemed to be very motivated and interested in what I had to say, which was a new experience for me. However, I soon got hip to the fact that most were probably just thirteen year olds with excellent vocabularies. Some could even spell.

I never became a fan of chatrooms. Initially, frustrated as a terrible typist yet a motivated communicator, I struggled to keep up with just one other person in these little, stark electronic rooms. Talking with a whole group could be very intimidating. But, chances are, that if I did make a fool of myself there, no one noticed due to the fact that chatroom communication can be similar to shouting in Grand Central Station.

Previously, people had the option of periodically speaking with boring, stupid, people in person. Now we can speak with boring stupid people internationally, 24 hours a day. Isn't cyberspace wonderful? Hey, if I want totally disjointed conversation, I don't need to go to a chatroom, I can always talk to my significant other.

I admit it. I am totally hooked on my computer, and the handful of dear friends that I have made across the miles: minds purely meeting and connecting and sharing. I cannot imagine living without this wonderful window on the world. Nothing is perfect, but cyberspace comes close.

Copyright 2000 By All Rights Reserved.

Submitted By: A F Waddell
Dec 17, 2000 17:21

This joke is rated: PG