As someone born in 1991, I believe I caught the tail end of “computer-less” and “cellphone-less” life. I am not saying that there was no such thing as computers, cellphones, and other forms of modern technology. By this, I simply mean that not everyone had a computer in their home, and many people did not have cell phones. I remember my parents’ first cell phones. I am pretty sure I was about six years old when they got these phones. They were huge, gray, and had antennas that you had to pull up out of the top of the phone. They were meant to be used to placed calls and had no extra “fluff” such as the ability to text or use the internet. I loved playing with these phones; they seemed so high tech to me at the time. I also remember my old Packard-Bell computer, on which I played the Lion King Computer game and sometimes, I would have the riveting pleasure of signing on to Juno e-mail. I vividly remember thinking that signing into e-mail was the most exciting thing in the word, even if it took ten minutes to do so and made weird noises.
A moment in my life that I will never forget was witnessing an Instant Message on America Online for the first time. My brother was on the computer with me and my parents gathered around him, he logged into AOL, and an instant message popped up. That distinct sound that happened when a person received an instant message caught my attention, and I saw this box with a message pop up on the screen. I asked my brother what it was, and he told me that it was a message that someone just sent from their computer at their house to our computer. My jaw dropped; I could not even fathom this as a possibility. How could a person actually send a message from their computer to ours within seconds? From then on, I was mesmerized by this incredible technology, and I immediate hopped on the AOL Instant Messenger bandwagon. It became an enormous part of my social life. I soon got a computer in my room and was logged on to AIM around the clock. I built a lot of friendships in middle school and some of high school through using this medium of communication.
Looking back on it, it seems ridiculous to me that I used to go online just to talk to people, and I did it all the time! I probably spent more of my time socializing online than in person throughout middle school. Do not get me wrong, I was a very social, outgoing person aside from my online personality, but this is just what people my age did. We were constantly messaging each other, leaving away messages to let each other know what we were doing at every waking moment, and forming chat rooms to have been group messaging sessions. Now, using AOL and AIM is not a popular thing to do anymore. Facebook has definitely dominated the market of online communication, but there are even more ways of communicating online nowadays. The most remarkable medium of online communication in my opinion is video chat. Video chat has truly revolutionized the way people stay in touch.
A particular example of how video chat has changed our lives comes to my mind. My friend’s entire family uses video chat almost daily to stay in touch with her baby cousin who lives in a different state. I have even chatted with this baby over Skype! I cannot even imagine how seeing his family on a video screen at such a young age on a daily basis affects the development of his brain and how he perceives technology. Thinking about how little I used technology as a young child and how much it has advanced since that time makes me wonder what will exist when this baby is my age. At this point, he can communicate virtually face to face in real time, so the possibilities for what will exist when he is twenty one years old are absolutely endless.
Generally speaking, I wonder how future generations will relate to technology. I wonder about what their dependence will be on these little machines. Will they feel lost without having a cell phone or computer on them? At that point in the future, technology will probably have advanced so much that computers and cellphones will probably take on an entirely new form altogether. I suppose only time will tell what the future holds, but for now, I am very curious to see how technology, as well as the people who use it, will evolve.