I don’t have anything to back up the following claim, but I’ll bet it is impossible in today’s connected world to do anything that is not impacted by Media. I believe this because my kids speak a language that did not exist when I was their age.
“Dad, can I have some WiFi?”
“Dad, I just downloaded my favorite audiobook to my tablet.”
“Dad, your parental controls are blocking my YouTube upload.”
“Dad, my favorite show is streaming on Amazon Prime.”
“Dad, all of my friends are moving from Instagram to SnapChat.”
Even my youngest, Madison (3), ends her FaceTime calls with grandma by saying, “Bye! Thanks for joining me today,” as if she is signing off of a livestream. My eight-year old has already declared that she wants to be a YouTuber for her career, which is fine. But when I hear these things, I reflect on my relationship with Media as I grew up.
Life Without Internet
There was no such thing as The Internet when I was a kid. At least, it wasn’t a thing in my rural village in southern Ohio in the early 1990s. There was no streaming television, social media, or digital media. Shucks, DVDs weren’t even a thing yet, so the movies I checked out from our tiny public library were all on video cassette tapes. The same was true for compact discs. They were more common but expensive, which prevented me from owning any as a teenager. I think I still have a Beatles album on cassette tape!
It wasn’t until after I joined the Army in 1997 that I learned what email was. Actually, my roommate, Perry, walked me to the library on base and showed me what email was. I left that afternoon with Hotmail and Yahoo accounts, along with dozens of pointless newsletter subscriptions. I was officially connected to the World Wide Web.
Even so, I still had no idea how the internet worked. I displayed my ignorance here when I purchased a small laptop from the Post Exchange in 1999 and spent hours trying to check my email. I couldn’t get a connection. I didn’t know that I needed a connection. For all I knew, the laptop was the embodiment of this thing called the Internet.
I returned the laptop a week later because it wasn’t connecting to the internet. I returned to the library whose computers had working Internets.
I didn’t buy another computer until 2002. By this point I’d deduced that the Internet and the Computer were separate entities. Internet service providers were more common, which just means that I finally noticed that they were a thing. It is more probable that I had come across one of the trillion AOL promo CD’s that you could find anywhere before then and learned that the internet was an intangible complement to the tangible computer.
That stupid little AOL disc taught me two things: 1. Programs exist inside and outside of the physical computer, and 2. I can download programs to my computer. This may not seem like a big deal, but that’s how uninitiated I was. Once AOL allowed me to connect to the web from my house, I didn’t know what to do other than check email. You could throw words and letters around like URL, web address, or HTTP, and I would not have understood the meaning or the reference.
Over the past decade, Uploading to YouTube and other immersive media has become more than just a way to share videos and connect. It has become a lucrative endeavor for those who figure out how to leverage the technology. I’m not one of those people.
It is now 23 years after I was first introduced to email and I am studying things like Search Engine Optimization, Google Analytics, and learning how to use these modern forms of wizardry to create content that reaches more people.
I still have a lot to learn, which is how it should be. The digital media environment we live in today changes every year, so it would be ridiculous to think that I’ve “reached the end of the Internet”.
I am now a budding blogger and freelance writer, creating content for two veteran affiliated websites.
I’m am also planning to start my own media company, which is crazy because I couldn’t have imagined such an idea as a young private in the Army two decades ago.
The Evolution of Media
The evolution of media fascinates me. Last year, I read a book, “The Forgotten Founding Father”, written by Stephen Mansfield, which chronicles Noah Webster and the events leading to the publication of his infamous dictionary. In the book, Mansfield chronicles how Webster and others utilized the print media to influence public opinion about the war. It was fascinating.
Today, we do more than write anonymous op-eds in printed newspapers, although that still certainly happens. Now there are hand-held computers called cell phones that keep us infinitely connected. We can get information on demand about anything, whether it’s true or not.
Whether we realize it or not, we are influenced by every single idea that we take into the quantum computers of our minds. Everything we learn, or believe we’ve learned, impacts every future thought we generate and influences the way we calculate our responses to the world around us. It is both exciting and terrifying.
I look forward to gaining more experience and evolving as a digital citizen. There are so many of you that I follow regularly who teach me something with every post you publish. In fact, the things I now know and the way that I’m thinking are a result of the information you’ve given me.
How and why did you get started in today’s digital media environment? You have any advice and guidance as I lay the foundation for a media company? Please comment below!
“Media 3.0” by Cea. is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/