Carol Jane Remsburg
It is no longer the wind of nature that ruffles the leaves of our lives. Since the late fifties television became our babysitter and turned adults into couch potatoes. By the mid-nineties all of that changed. Home computers were a bit slow to catch on but by the turn of the century even granny had one.
Initially home computers were the slow, stalwart companions of the home office that typed letters better than a typewriter, even the fancier models, they did complicated spreadsheets and budgets. These early models even had games. Finally email arrived. And with it came the real communication age where for free you could walk into your public library armed with email addresses of family and friends and send free letters.
Then chat rooms were created and discussion forums. Not long afterwards free "home pages" could be had. Everything from the new kitten, the remodeling of your aging home, or the new couch found its way to your page. Many of us found an outlet—whatever that outlet was. We also found others of our same ilk. We discovered we weren't alone in this vast space and liked it very much.
The Internet with all its foibles and pitfalls also became the fabled Mecca. Within its no-boundaries zone, we found we could be ourselves. For some it takes a while for them to realize it while worrying over their persona on the web. Yet the most satisfying thing about it all is meeting and greeting others. Getting to know them while they get to know you. None of us have to be fancy, just polite. We have discovered that the entire world is at our fingertips right within the safety of our own homes.
Every workday I speak to hundreds of people from all walks of life. Most have that secret desire to share a part of themselves with others and to realize that it is a small world. I've met people from Canada to Wales to Finland and to the Outback of Australia. One thing I've discovered on the Net is that most people are just plain nice. None of us are that far apart on any issue when it comes down to the bare bones of it all, and that makes me feel safer in this uncertain world of ours.
Sometimes we are the teachers and sometimes we are the students. We all learn from each other in our exchanges.
I think the most exciting thing about it all is learning about the impact that same discovery about home computers and the Internet has on others. Allow me to further expound on that sentence . . .
At work I talk with people about their phones which inevitably leads to a discussion about home computers, internet, DSL and all that. It's never the kids or teens or young adults or middle-aged adults that astound me—it's our seniors. Oh, how I adore them and admire them. For years and years our seniors have ended up boxed inside their homes, apartments or whatever dwellings they have while slowly being cut away from the outside world only to rot away in isolation. Often it's a physical thing that impedes them. With home computers and the Internet the entire world becomes open to them and they can share all the wonderful things they've accumulated over the years.
A grandma in Dundalk, Maryland can now email her grandson in California who wouldn't write and post a letter if his life depended on it. But he's totally into IM and email. She keeps in touch daily. That same grandma sends recipes to other family and friends that are in far flung places. Suddenly she finds her submission in publication over those secret recipe biscuits she's horded for the last four decades and has finally decided to share. She joins that quilting bee that is spread from Maine to Wyoming. She literally bumps into that Bing Crosby site and devours every morsel of information. She also resides on a news forum as a fixture sharing her views and opinions while the rest of us learn and is the guardian of our good manners. All this in just a few months! Now granny can't wait to wake up each day. That dull view from her window has been replaced with a new vigor and zeal that she hasn't felt in years. Suddenly, Grandma is thriving and excited about life again.
That's been the very best benefit that our Internet has provided us with. Okay, so there is a crackpot around every corner. Those crackpots are in all walks of life from the Artic to the Antarctic, there's just no escaping them. Still, it's the opening of the world and the bonding of the rest of the world that I find so wonderfully intriguing.
With such a cyber wind, I can only learn and grow and share. It must be the Miracle-Gro® for people. Allow it to carry you where it will and realize that without it you'd be stuck with TV or that dull window. The only thing better than this is a really good book. Just don't give short shrift to the books in your life. They are worlds unto themselves too and constantly cry out for our attention.
The Cyber Wind isn't one that leaves us out in the cold. It's just a welcoming bugle. Toot your horn and join in.