I met my wife on the internet. Ten years ago, that would have been a pretty shocking statement. Now, I’m not so sure that it would be a big deal. But it’s hardly commonplace either. In any case, the internet has taken on such a ubiquity that I sometimes have to wonder how I ever survived without it. And yet the internet’s rise to prominence has been shockingly quick. Fifteen years ago I didn’t even know what the internet was. Thirty years ago (before I was born) the internet barely existed outside of military and university laboratories. And now it’s everywhere.
I’m not a particularly wealthy man (although I am particularly nerdy), but in my house there are at least 10 devices that can connect to the internet. All but one of them do so without any physical connection (darn you Xbox 360!). If I was a wealthy man, I can guarantee you that I’d own a lot more than 10 internet-enabled devices. What do I do with them all? Well, a variety of things.
One of the devices is a netbook, which I am currently typing this blog post on. My wife also has a netbook. We use these as our primary computers. We surf the “world wide web”, we download music, we get updates for our software, and so on. Four of my internet devices are video game consoles. On three of these, I use the internet connection both to update the firmware and download new games or add-on content. (The fourth one is a Nintendo DS Lite. It is technically capable of connecting to the internet, but I never actually use that functionality, since all you can do with it is play multiplayer games. I don’t play multiplayer games.) My wife and I also own a total of four Zunes, which can connect to the internet and download music. (The Zune HD also has a web browser, but it’s pretty basic. And slow. I hardly ever use it.)
So the internet is everywhere. But that wasn’t always the case. As I stated at the beginning of this post, my wife and I met on the internet. We met in 2001, before there were things like MySpace and FaceBook and Twitter. Instead, what happened was that I used to search for random people to talk to on AOL Instant Messenger. I was almost always searching for Christian girls. And one day my wife was the person I picked to talk to. Yes, not only did I meet my wife on the internet, I was actively looking for a wife/girlfriend on the internet! Nerdy? Well, ten years ago it certainly was, but I’m not so sure it would be considered so today. I don’t really know, since I don’t do that sort of thing anymore.
In any case, I didn’t realize I would marry this girl the first time I talked to her, of course. In fact, I didn’t particularly like her at all when I first talked to her. Turns out, she didn’t particularly like me either. But, I knew that first impressions can be misleading, so I decided to keep talking to her for at least a little while. And, as time went on, she started to grow on me. And for some reason, I started to grow on her as well. Less than a year later, I found myself getting on a plane for the first time and flying halfway across the country to spend a week with her and her family. A year after that, and we were married.
The thing that’s fascinating to me about all of this is that even though I met my wife online, I still can’t help but be flabbergasted at how gigantic and all-pervasive the internet has become. Four years ago we didn’t even have a broadband internet connection. Now, not only do we have broadband, but we have wireless broadband, and of course the 10 internet-connected devices that I mentioned earlier. In fact, I would say that I consider my internet connection to be more of a necessity than my phone connection, although more and more people are giving up their landlines these days, so I suppose that statement isn’t as shocking as it once would have been either.
This brings me to another thing, which is that as ubiquitous as the internet is nowadays, it’s only going to get more so as time goes on. For example, people who live in big cities can already easily access the internet anywhere from their mobile phones. Someday (Lord willing) such a thing will be possible in the small rural town I live in. But not only that, but more and more, things that are handled and/or stored on physical computers nowadays are going to be handled/stored “up in the cloud”, that is, on the internet. This sort of thing is already going to a large extent. For example, with my Zune HD, I can search for a song or album, and listen to it streaming from the cloud, without ever having the file(s) stored on my device. It’s a great feature, because I can listen to just about anything I want to, anywhere there’s a Wi-Fi connection. (Disclaimer: This feature requires a $15 a month fee, so don’t rush out and buy a Zune HD expecting to listen to oodles of free music.)
It’s hard for me to imagine life without the internet. Such a thing must be possible, since I didn’t even know what the internet was until I was 15. But I’ve become so used to it, so reliant on it, that I don’t really know what I would do without it. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I guess I would argue that it’s both, or neither. Overreliance on anything probably isn’t good, but I don’t think that the internet is more or as dangerous as, say, smoking cigarettes, or drinking alcohol, or gambling. In any case, whether you think the internet is good or evil, the fact remains that it is everywhere, and it’s only going to get more so in years to come.