Growing up I always considered myself a pen and paper kind of guy. I loved writing letters. One of my favorite feelings in the world was getting a new letter from my family or friends. As time moved on, however, my life got busier and I found less time to write letters to my close friends. This was pretty tough for me, considering one of my best friends Rupa had moved away. We wanted to keep in touch, but letters took too much time to write and too long to reach their destinations. At this point I was in the 6th grade. My mom suggested that we use an AOL account to keep in touch. Now, back then I thought the computer was a magic box full or mysteries and was just too complicated to truly understand. One of my first memories of using the Internet was setting up an AOL account. I remember how amazing it was to pick my own username, so naturally I picked something along the line of Jmoney1234. After setting up the account and adding my friend Rupa, I sent out my first e-mail. Minutes later I got a response and I was in total shock! It felt the same as getting a new letter; only it was instant and much more convenient. The accessibility to my friends who lived far away is what really drew me into the Internet. The major aspect of new media that I saw in my AOL account was the freedom of it and how personalized it could be. It was so unique because anyone could make an account and it was so comforting knowing that I could still stay connected to my friends. Even today, I still keep in touch with all my friends that live far away via email, so while the media is a growing entity, some things just never change!
By Anthony Rossi
When I was young, I would wake up at 6 AM and run into the family room to play around for a few hours on our enormous block of a computer. Initially, I didn’t have any interest in the internet and preferred to play with my collection of CD-ROMs. My favorite games were painfully 90’s and would always involve colorful protagonists, 2D graphics, annoying music, and puzzles that took me way too long to figure out. It’s amazing to think that these simple games (Freddi the Fish and the Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds, Zoombinis, Math Blaster) gave me hours and hours of entertainment, but it all seemed so exciting and new.
By the time I started using the internet, it was mainly to take care of my Neopets or to watch the Hamster Dance a million times in a row. I began to slowly branch out and explore the internet a little bit, adding my friends on several game sites so we could compare our scores or trade virtual items. Cartoon Network, Addicting Games, and AlbinoBlackSheep quickly became my top visited pages. I had made the jump from “Rated G” web content to some hard core “PG” stuff. I was completely hooked on the fast-paced, action-packed games and flash animations which were updated almost daily. The fact that these websites changed and evolved really blew me away, because there was always something new to see. My CD-ROMs were quickly forgotten and I was sucked into the world of the Internet.
My “Ah-Ha!” moment came a little bit later than it probably did for most. When I was in second grade, an online game called Runescape began to take the internet by storm and it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The very idea of playing live online with other players and interacting with them in real time was mind-blowing for me. Unfortunately, my mom wouldn’t allow me to play unless I played along with my older sister who was less interested in fighting dragons than finding cute armor. We added our friends to our contact list so we could message them as we played. We didn’t have AIM yet, so Runescape served as our primary means of communication with our friends online. Obviously, Runescape was not a lasting trend, but it was my introduction to online communication and the online multiplayer experience.
Online life used to be so simple, huh? As much as I love our new technology, I secretly miss that ability to be so easily pleased and entertained. Excuse me as I go download the Freddi the Fish pack on Steam and try to recapture my youthful innocence.
By Chelsea Kuchik
As a “millennial” born in the early 1990’s, I am part of the first generation to be raised with computers in the household for more than just work purposes. As the oldest child, I was spoiled with ridiculous amounts of attention and toys, including computer games – a huge fad of the 90s. I could lose myself for hours exploring the moon with PuttPutt the car, deep sea diving with Freddi Fish, battling bad dreams with pajama Sam, or figuring out whodunit with Spy Fox.
As I proceeded to finally win the games or grow tired of them, I began to see more and more advertisements on Cartoon Network and Disney Channel for plenty more games on the Internet. “Ask your parents to go online and play now!” By seven years old, I was a savvy Internet user, bouncing between cartoonnetwork.com, disneychannel.com, and Neopets. My computer lab class we took once a week had my fellow students and I practicing typing with a game called “Read, Write, and Type.” I can still remember the phrases we learned to remember the key order. “Quick Ask Zoey/What Stops Xrays/Even Dogs Can’t” etc.
While I was too young to notice at the time, I can see now that the tables quickly turned on who was able to control the computer. My mother would constantly ask me questions on how to work it, rather than me needing her. In fact, my parents did not really use the computer that much other than for the occasional work document or yahoo search.
These initial experiences with the internet demonstrate many of the characteristics written about identifying New Media and why people decide to adopt it or get rid of it. For me as a young child, these games provided a new medium for me to explore. Perhaps when friends weren’t able to come over, I could still have adventures exploring the moon or solving a mystery. Sure, they only vaguely mimicked real life such as van Dijk describes, and had very limited options to deviate from the gameplay script (I remember sometimes just clicking around the screen until I could get something to happen) but for a seven year old, it most certainly served its entertainment purpose. Unbeknownst to me, most of these games also served an educational purpose that my parents enjoyed, making these games not only a medium for entertainment, but also for education, which was something new. Who knew learning could be fun?
I think the most important Ah-ha! Moment for me during my childhood would be moving from games that were one player to interactive online games, such as neopets. Receiving messages from other members online, challenging others to games, and chatting on message boards all opened my eyes to how vast the internet was. The ability to connect myself with others from all over the world was quite surprising for my 10 year old self. Looking back, I wonder what my media diet habits would be if I had not had an account on this site and learned how to socially interact online at such a young age.
I still remember the Christmas morning that my parents took me and my brother into our home office to see a massive desktop computer. Although waiting on dial up was a hassle, I thought that having the internet at my fingertips was the coolest thing ever. I cherished my time spent chatting with my friends on Instant Messenger and posting bulletins on my MySpace page. It was the first site that I had that connected me to all of my friends. Today, most people’s first encounter with media is at a very young age. Even children carry around iPhones and iPads, which is a drastic change from when I was growing up.
In my opinion, the most important advancement in new media is the creation of newer, better social networks. Sites like Facebook and Twitter allow people to connect solely through a computer screen and have become integral parts of American culture. We are constantly checking our phones and social networks, which allows us to stay updated on what’s happening with friends and throughout the world. For me, it’s almost compulsive to check my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feeds throughout the day, which is a drastic change from when I was younger.
Growing up, technology was nowhere near as significant in my life as it is in today’s generation. I never felt the need to have a cell phone as a child, and I didn’t even receive a cell of my own until I entered high school. Computers were never a huge part of my life growing up either. The only times I did use one was for the intention of some type of educational game or any online game in general. The Internet as a whole was just something that did not fascinate me as a child. This is most likely because the power of the Internet was just beginning. As I started to get older, the Internet and its popularity among my generation began to increase. People began to get their own emails, using MySpace, instant messaging each other etc. It started the trend of meeting people solely through a computer screen.
When I think back to my childhood, it actually shocks me how different my life was as compared to now. I never felt the need to check my phone, because I didn’t have one. However, now, the Internet seems to be one of the largest parts of our lives. We use it here on campus; we use it for work, for school, for homework, even for this blog post. It is something that has formed its way into daily life so much so that it is hard to imagine a life without it. Nowadays, new media is a vital part of even the youngest generations. It seems as though every child has a brand new iPhone 5s or some type of smart phone. Children know how to work technology before they reach double digits in age.
Discussion question #1: Although when it comes to technological dependence, most people only think of the negatives, what are the positives to it?
Clearly, the media has been around for many years, and has been an essential part of daily life. However, it has not always been the way that it is today. The advancement of media over recent time has completely changed the way in which we live. With social medias like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, we have been able to live a complete life on the web. We are able to view people’s inner worlds with the click of a button, people we may have never seen in real life before. To me, this is definitely an important advancement within new media in that it has allowed for so much change that wasn’t even imaginable in the past. There is definitely a point in which the Internet can be overused and depended on, however, we must also praise its benefits.
Discussion question #2: Imagine a world without the internet, do you think as a culture we would be able to develop relationships with each other more easily?
My earliest memory of using the Internet is when I was in 4th grade and I learned about Disneychannel.com. I remember that we had dial-up Internet and I had to ask permission to use the Internet for twenty minutes at a time because that would prevent my parents from being able to talk on the phone. When I discovered the Disneychannel.com I was overwhelmed by all the opportunities I had for online gaming, in so little time.
The first game that I ever played online was called, Rufus Snow Ride. Actually, I was ranked number 8 in the United States for a verrry short period of time. Nonetheless, my few moments of glory existed and they were wonderful. Disney Channel had a lot of games as time went on and I found myself consumed by their website for most of my free time.
My first form of social media was AOL Instant Messenger. Thinking back, I’m quite embarrassed of the things I used to post and my “Away Messages” which were almost always a quote about a boy who probably never checked them. I think that AOL really was the first spark of a fire that encompassed all social media. The popularity that skyrocketed from just about all of the preteens of the US, was astounding.
I think MySpace was a product of the success of AIM. I remember all of my friends having MySpace’s and the constant begging to my parents about wanting to make a profile. MySpace was addicting because it was new media and it was so interactive. You’re constantly looking at new things that are being updated and you have so much more ability to connect with friends outside of physical means.
Currently, I’m an active member of Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram. I think that the capacity that new media holds is astounding. I can literally check my twitter in two-minute intervals and have a completely new newsfeed. I don’t think I would consider myself addicted, but then again, I can’t imagine going a day without checking my newsfeeds.
- What do you think is most interactive about new media?
- What do you think is the most beneficial aspect of social media?