My family got the internet when I was about thirteen. Despite being unsure as to the point of having it, that didn’t stop us from seeing if random things in our lives had websites, and I distinctly remember the first two we checked were Third Rock from the Sun and KitKat. Third Rock did, but I think KitKat let us down. Nowadays I can’t log onto Facebook without a KitKat advert popping up anywhere it can fit, which shows how much things have changed. Sort of.
Today it seems that everything has a website, but there’s a huge difference between a website and a web presence. Search for Audi, for example, and you will indeed find its websites, but as well as these you’ll be offered a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Wikipedia entry, thousands of images and videos and about a trillion listings under a variety of car dealerships, classified adverts and customer reviews. And then of course there are unofficial mentions, such as personal accounts that just happen to mention Audi, be it as text, a photo or anything else.
It’s very rare that something or someone doesn’t have some kind of presence on the internet, what with the prevalence of social media and almost all newspapers being online. When I was thirteen and I first typed my name into the Yahoo search engine (Google wouldn’t be founded for another three years), it came up with Richard Kerens Sutherland, a figure from American military history, and a few namesakes dotted around the world who just happened to have built websites for themselves. Now when I type Richard Sutherland (with quotes) into Google, it comes back with 118,000 results. Many of them will be for Richard Kerens Sutherland still, granted, but there are many, many others. One worked on the visual effects for The Avengers (I’m well jel), and another is an Elvis Presley tribute act, but sadly his website has left the building.
My point is that the internet is an incredible entity and something that many of us simply cannot imagine living without, despite its relatively short time in our lives. For me, the very idea of not being able to find out trivial facts at the touch of a few keys, such as the films an actor has been in before a particular blockbuster, is simply unthinkable. By the same token, I use the internet to carry out large amounts of research for my writing, be it fiction, poetry or professional copywriting, and there are people I speak to online that I’ve never laid eyes on in real life.
So let’s all take a minute to remember what life was like not even twenty years ago. In fact, think about what it was like only ten years ago, before Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Wikipedia and Instagram. Some may say we have too much technology, but each generation has those who think it’s reached its limit. Personally I want to live to the age of 100 and be a cool great-grandad that still loves all things techy; I may not have much of a pulse by then, but hopefully I’ll compensate by having my finger on the pulse of the latest trends. I also hope that by then people will use hashtags in spoken conversation as a means of summing up a sentence. That would be #highlyeffective.