Monday, 21 June 2010

The trouble with the Internet is that it's replaced masturbation as a leisure activity

I love technology. I think that’s pretty obvious from previous blogs. Today though, my main topic is the internet.

I remember when we first got an internet connection at home. Dial up, on our huge desktop PC stashed out in our rickety wooden conservatory. If you wanted to be connected, we had a long telephone extension cord, trailing from the BT socket at one end of the living room, through the dining room, keeping the patio doors open, pull the desk out a bit so you can crouch behind the computer and plug the cord in. Then you had to make sure no-one wanted to make a phone call for half an hour, and check with Mum that we could afford the cost of the “phone call”.

You loaded up good old AOL (does anyone actually still use them?!), and clicked “Connect”. Then you sat excitedly while listening to the wonderful sound of dial-up.

Back then it was highly unlikely that a 14 year old had much email to go through. This was before social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. You had to know other people who had MSN Messenger, and they too had to go through the “connection” process. Whatever you wanted to say, it would have been quicker to get on your bike and cycle to their house, knock on the door and ask their mum if they can come out and play.

It’s hard to believe that all I’ve just reminisced about was from 1999. Doesn’t sound that long ago does it?

11 years.

The World Trade Centres still stood tall and made the New York skyline stand out from all other cities.

Star Wars: Episode 1 was released.

The population of the world hit 6 billion.

Feel old?

Look how far a household had advanced in such a short time. In 1999 we had one computer. My brother and I had fights over who got to use it in the evenings, and whoever lost had to do their homework by hand. The term “Google” sounded dirty and something I shouldn’t repeat in polite company.

Just a short time later came the mobile phone boom in the UK. I got a job to earn enough to buy my own phone, and I then had to keep a job so I could top it up, and use it. My first network was BT Cellnet. Remember them?! They’re O2 now. My Pay As You Go, “U” phone was the only phone on the market that could send little smiley cartoons alongside your texts.

It had no internet connection. Why would it? I could phone people AND send text messages! How cool was that? Life couldn’t get much better than this surely?!

Wait a minute…2001 brought us mobile phones with COLOUR SCREENS?!

Holy crap, we’re going to be living on Mars in my lifetime.

I remember around the same time as colour screen mobiles, and the release of the PS2, my mum’s boyfriend (now my step-dad) moved in and converted us to broadband internet. Mainly because he brought his own computer with him and didn’t want to be fighting with two teenagers over who gets to check their empty inbox.

We couldn’t believe it. More than one computer in the house? Connected to the internet at the same time? And one of us could make a phone call as well? Where’s my robot butler?

We all seem to forget, when going about our day to day lives just how far our society has come, technologically in just a few short years. When you think about it, it is really quite incredible.

For those who don’t know, I should probably mention that I work in Customer Services for Virgin Media. Well, Mobile but it’s all the same company. I should also, for job safety mention that anything I say in these blogs is my own thoughts and opinions and do not represent those of the company, customer or other employees working there. You get the idea.

Anyway, working for such a company, you do sometimes forget just how easy we have it. I’ve worked there for just over five years now. When I joined the company, mobile phones had just started having cameras as a standard feature. And they didn’t take good pictures. But who were you to complain, you’re phone had a frigging camera for crying out loud!

Now I can do more on my phone than I could ever have dreamed of doing on that slow desktop PC out in the cold conservatory during a rainstorm, being shouted at by your mum because she needs to phone your Grandma and can’t because you’re too busy pissing about on the internet.

I loved having that computer. Not many of my friends had computers at home, and I am to this day self taught in all computing and technological stuff. Without that computer it’s unlikely I’d be as interested in all of it today.

This blog is turning out to be much like my other techno-rant. I’m appreciating all I have and all that others have as well. My job sometimes makes me wonder if others actually ever take a step back and look at how lucky they are before opening their mouths.

I’m just waiting for the day time travel is invented. I’d love to go back just to the year 2000 and compare it to now…

…don’t worry though. Time travel can’t be that far away. All cars can do 88 miles per hour these days, so it’s just the flux capacitor bit that needs sorting out.

While writing I listened to some retro tunes:

R Kelly – Bump ‘n’ Grind

Destiny’s Child – Say My Name

N*Sync – Tearing Up My Heart

Tatyana Ali – Boy You Knock Me Out

Sweet Female Attitude – Flowers

Simply Red – Something Got Me Started

Paula Abdul – Straight Up

Right Said Fred – Deeply Dippy

Sophie B. Hawkins – Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover

R.E.M – The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight


  1. I remember Episode I being released. Star Wars was still good back then. Now it's tainted. And it'll never be the same again. *Sniff*

  2. Sod all the rest of the stuff you wrote... i just love that you listened to a Simply Red tune!

  3. Fantastic blog - love it! "Just waiting for the Flux Capacitor" ... classic!

  4. I arrived here, don't know how, and have two daughters older than you, just so you know.

    I have to say, as a writer myself, you can write. A rare ability. Many people think they can but few are able.

    Your post about your father was particularly well-written given the emotions it must have given rise to.

    Ever thought of writing seriously? A book, short stories or whatever? You should.