Saturday, 25 August 2018

Memory Lane with a Grumpy Woman.

The Dawn of Misty Dreams by Adele Cosgrove-Bray; watercolour; 2018.
I've been thinking about the internet and how it's changed over time, and how my use of it has changed too. Around 17 years ago, purely out of curiosity, I took a Learn Direct course which promised to be an 'Introduction to the Internet'. I quickly became hooked on this strange new world where the creativity of total strangers provided a seemingly infinite variety of entertainment.

Intrigued, I set out on a journey of exploration which not only made research for my novels easy but also brought me into the world of RPGs. I won't reveal which characters I played, or on which boards our games were played out. That would spoil the mystery - and mystery was all part of the fun. As a talented co-player, Tristan, once told me, "If I wanted reality, I'd go to my parish."

We used message boards and linked LiveJournal blogs to these; role-played in Yahoo! IM till dawn broke. We created long and complex stories, co-writing with people whose legal names we'd never know and who certainly we'd never meet. Inevitably there were occasional fireworks, but negative drama was easily counterbalanced by escapist fun.

Then social networking washed over the scene. The masks provided by pseudonyms were removed. Now everyone has to be aware that the world will read online profiles and posts. Everyone's "real" - except that much of it isn't real simply because it's all so guarded.

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person.
Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
Oscar Wilde.
Three Blue Boats by Adele Cosgrove-Bray; watercolour; 2018.
The internet is older now, and so am I. No longer do people say, "Wow! Do you really have a computer in your home? But what can you do with it apart from maths?"
Like many, I've tried more sites than I've stayed with. Twitter is one I never did take to. Facebook, to me, is increasingly dull, even if I ignore their dubious marketing policies - not that all other social networks aren't also exploiting their subscribers as a means of making money, (which is what every business exists for). Some old sites are like ghost towns now, despite having once been The Cool Place to be. Well, you remember what old Lao Tse said about change, hmm?
Sunset City by Adele Cosgrove-Bray; watercolour; 2018.
Ok, so websites now look more sophisticated, if also homogeneous and predictable, than they used to, but there was something much more individualistic about those old DIY make-your-eyes-bleed graphics of the earlier internet. The internet used to be an anarchic hot bed of creativity; of people doing battle with HTML. Now all anyone need do is pick a ready-made layout and choose between several shades of the same design. Add an icon with huge eyes and no nose and it's a "Manga" theme. Add a handsome-but-dead guy and the same thing is transformed to "gothic". Flowers = girly; stars or dolphins = new age; winter trees = thoughtful; city skyline = office bore. Take your pick of nothing much, then post a photo of beans on toast and you're all done.


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Adele Cosgrove-Bray said...

Thank you; and I wish you well in creating your own blog.