I recently wrote about the the 15th birthday of the Internet browser, mentioning the accomplishments of the browser over the past 15 years, and it got me thinking about what I’m thankful for because of access to the Internet through the browser.
I’m thankful that my family and friends and I can stay in touch very easily. Even ten years ago when I was living in my home town near Seattle, people would shake their heads at the kinds of conversations my mother and I would have in their presence.
“Did you get the email I sent?”
“That was silly. Did you get my reply?”
“Not yet. Haven’t been home this afternoon.”
“But you did get the date and time for the theater tickets on Friday, right? I emailed that two days ago.”
“Yes. I got that. Oh, I emailed you the pictures I took of the grandchildren. You got them, right?”
“Yes, but could you make the images a little smaller in size next time? You filled up my email inbox.”
“I will but you’re going to have to come over and show me how to do that. You know I’m not technically inclined.”
Yes, that was my mother. Not technically inclined and yet she can whip through email at a furious rate, emailing everyone and anything, even writing scathing letters to the editor of the local newspaper. She can scan photographs and email them, and track her stock portfolio through a spreadsheet she developed herself in Microsoft Excel. She is very technically inclined without ever attending a computer class. People would say, “You talk on the phone and see each other all the time. Why bother with email?” My mother would look at them and say, “Why not?” Email has become a critical part of our lifestyle and goes beyond just talking to each other. Many things are said in an email, like a letter, that may never be said verbally.
I’m thankful to the Internet for my work. Yes, I am a writer and nature/travel photographer and without the Internet, my work would take longer and be much harder. I worked for many years before the Internet and my mailing costs were huge. Now, instead of carefully packaging up my precious original images and mailing them with plenty of insurance coverage, I can scan them and send them via email or upload them to the client. Instead of waiting weeks or months for a reply to a submission query, I get an email sometimes within hours. While I get few rejections, it is tough on the ego to get an immediate rejection. Waiting a few weeks or months between rejections was a bit easier, I have to admit. ;-)
I’m thankful to the Internet for the much larger audience I have than if I didn’t have a website or Internet access. We have fans of our writing and photography all over the world, from Russia to China and I’ve even gotten email from a fan in Antarctica. While this is great for our business, it is even more special to know that what our work helps people around the world as they learn more about nature and nature photography, as well as travel, encouraging them to explore the world around them and afar.
I’m thankful to the Internet for the awesome people we’ve met. We’ve met incredible people in our travels that we would have never encountered if we hadn’t “met” them through the Internet. Through our websites, teaching online workshops and programs, and volunteering for online projects, we have gotten to know people all over the world and occasionally we’ve taken them up on their offer to come visit.
Ten years ago, one Denver woman I got to know online gave me contact information and “orders” to invite ourselves to stay with her brother and family in Florida. He was open and willing to allow these two strangers in a huge trailer stay in his yard for a week. Told by his sister to treat me like I was a sister “because I’ve adopted her so be nice! She’s family now!”, he asked me how long I’d known Laura. I had to admit that we’d never met, but it didn’t matter because we were the bestest of friends. When I finally did get to meet her, we had the best time and stayed with her and her husband several times in Denver as we crossed North American. She is indeed like a sister to me.
Traveling across the country long before wireless Internet, we’d beg, borrow, and steal any telephone connection to reconnect with the world. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, we stayed with another couple we’d met online but not in person. They told us that they might be out when we arrived but gave us information on where to park and to make ourselves at home. When Brent and I arrived, a telephone cord was hanging out the window at the back of the house right by where we were to park. We cried with joy and were connected back to the Internet within minutes of parking our trailer, picking up our email. Now, that is true friendship. They understood our desperate need to stay connected to the Internet.
I’m thankful to the Internet for the information I can access within minutes. While it wasn’t always this way, there is more and more information on the Internet every day, increasing its value. I can find movie theater times, flight arrivals and departure times, weather reports, news, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and so much information, its overwhelming. News doesn’t happen to someone else now. It happens before my eyes as I watch the news on the Internet, read the stories and blogs from those who where “there” and saw it happen. As frustrating as too much information can be, I love that I have access to the information, something once only gathered from newspapers, radio, television, or the library.
I’m thankful to the Internet for the development of the blog. While I don’t blog to share my personal opinion on the politics of the day, I blog about my travels and life on the road, and about the work that I do. By blogging, I get to share my writing with many people all over the world. My gratefulness includes the joy and freedom that blogging brings to so many people who do get an opportunity to share their personal views and opinions on the world around them with the rest of the world. It’s a fabulous way to not only share your writing, but to get to know all kinds of people from all walks of life, how they think, what they care about, and what their world is like.
There is so much more, but now I want to know what you are thankful for about the Internet. Does it help you with your work? Your life? Your social life? What kinds of information do you rely upon via the Internet? How do you use the Internet to communicate? How has it changed your life? Has it improved it or merely added to the stress and frustration? What are you thankful for and why when it comes to the Internet?