Many many years ago, at the dawn of the new millennium, when I was a wee lil student who had just stepped out of the comforts of the home and school into the big bad world, I was introduced to the joys of the Internet. And needless to say, I was hooked. Everything was an adventure. Right from creating a tiny yahoo id with a sad underscore in it, to not wanting to log-in to any chat rooms with it because you never know the person on the other side could be a stalker, to paying 50 bucks (or was it even more?) per hour to just check the wonder that was email, in a shady Internet cafe, with tiny cubicles you could sit couped in while waiting for the mailbox to open, and watching the status bar fill at the rate of one tiny millimeter every 5 minutes. That was when there were dial-up connections. When the broadband era set in, I couldn’t help but envy that cafe guy, who could surf endlessly at his desk, and get paid for keeping a record of who sat where for how long. And here I was, paying 25 bucks an hour for just being able to check my mail and chat. Hmph. But come what may, I treated myself to an hour of net-surfing every Friday without feeling guilty of spending aforementioned time and money, or irritated with the continuous whirring of the ceiling fan which did nothing to cut the Hyderabad heat.
That was then. Luckily, in 3 years time, I had my personal computer, in my very own room, with 24 hours Internet at what I thought was mind-blowing speed. And all of it free (ok, baked in the fees, but I didn’t have an option right?). It was heaven. The hours spent on yahoo, and the movies sent back and forth through the IP messenger. It actually brought along an era of unmatched laziness, the height of it being once when the balcony-mate pinged me to come to her room urgently for a favor, which turned out to be, ‘please switch the fan on, I’m too lazy to get up’. It also was the phase of perennial joblessness, which led to inevitable outcomes like creating mail ids on all possible providers, setting up blogs, and accepting all and every social networking invite that came your way.
Which brings us to the point which triggered this post. I really don’t remember when I created my Facebook account. And I am dead sure that I was not regular on it till like a couple of years ago, probably when people I knew started putting up goodbye messages on Orkut (almost always at least 6 months before they finally did exit, and most of the time, they’re still around) saying they were bored of it and all. Again, my point being I had an account on Facebook, but I would check it like every alternate day at the most. In fact, I think I was more regular on Orkut.
But then, Facebook got real smart. It did what Yahoo messenger did in the year 2004, which made all the jobless souls on campus get glued to it. Remember Text-twist? That was one addictive game, and your scores would be on display on your messenger all the time. Plus, it would show the high scores amongst your friends. And being on campus meant you had 100+ people on your friends list. And that’s all that was needed. People would play that game ALL the time. Heck, we even had an inter hostel competition for it! Oh, and apart from that there were a good number of mind-numbing click-of-mouse games as well. And very often, you would walk into rooms, where you could see a sole individual, sitting still as a rock on the plastic chair in front of the screen, music of choice blaring in the background, and the only thing moving would be the index finger, rhythmically clicking the mouse.
Anyway, back to the point. So Facebook has gotten me logging into my account, multiple times a day now. Something I never did before. At least not with Facebook. Or for that matter, any site in the past 4.5 years that I have been working. It started with Farmville. Lots of people tried it. Some continued, and still do. Some never returned after the first login. Some played for a while before declaring it sucked. Some never tried it, and put up status messages expressing disgust and amusement over why people felt the need to display their achievements on the farm, on the wall. Heh. I tried it, got addicted, had weird conversations with The Dude like ‘ I’ve got to take the 5:30 bus, or my strawberries will wither’, continued playing, lost interest, and now am still playing just for the heck of it. Ok, not really, but I need to buy a Green House for the farm before I retire, but with the pace with which I am going, I don’t know when that would happen. But the cool thing was, just when I started losing interest, and getting bugged with the re-syncing of the server, and the insufficient fuel for my harvester-seeder-tractor, I started playing Cafe world. Which basically has me running a virtual cafe and cooking all kinds of yummy dishes (something I guess I would do only in the virtual world). Just when I thought I wouldn’t bother to lo-gin to facebook to see if my grape crop was ready to be harvested, I’m now doing it to see if my French Onion soup is ready to be served. Sigh. Such is life.
Anyway, point being, I can’t imagine how I would survive without the Internet anymore. Or for that matter, how I survived before it’s existence. On days like this, when I absolutely refuse to do anything worthwhile, but am expected to stay at the workstation all the same, the Internet is more than a lifesaver. Games, blogs, re the perfect fillers for a regular day at work, or for that matter, a day at home even. Thank you ARPA, thank you Berners-Lee, thank you all who made this awesomeness possible.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some Caramelised Apples to serve.