W A R D U N I
V E R S I T Y|
& Voices IV
AN ANTHOLOGY OF VERSE AND
Century Digital Girl
I am a card-carrying romanticist; I am a lover of fine stationery, well-bound books, handmade crafts, pressed flowers and aged paper. I collect newspaper clippings, make scrapbooks, save stamps and envelopes sent to me from faraway friends, and take photographs in black and white. My closest companions are a potter, an actress, a painter and a dancer. Naturally, the coming of the Digital Age has frightened me to no end. Still, by some strange twist of fate, I have come closer to dehumanization than any of my more accepting peers: my computer, a modest 466 megahertz machine, has evolved from its role as helpful tool to one of indispensability: I cannot recall the last time I handwrote a substantive letter or initiated written work on an actual sheets of paper. My trips to the post office have become few and far between and the envelopes I tote are most often addressed to offices of admission, PO boxes and invoicing bureaus (who petition me on behalf of internet service providers). I am still amused by self-adhesive and special edition stamps and become giddy at the sealing of priority mail envelopes. In short, I am slowly but surely losing touch. Sure, laziness has played a role in my devolution, but I can justifiably blame the entire circumstance on the internet.
My fascination with the World Wide Web began some five or six years ago when Prodigy® mania swept the middle and upper echelons of the American populace. Back then, the internet was primarily employed to transmit electronic mail and engage in virtual conversation; the web—and the personal computer, for that matter, were little more than expensive diversions that one was neither lucky nor unlucky to have or not have. These days, forget about it. To not claim ownership to a PC straightforwardly spells the demise of success for professionals and students alike. Among elementary, grammar and secondary educators, the touting of computer literacy as the foremost basic skill has replaced talk of strengthening students’ mastery of the Three R’s. Should one expect to surpass stage one of the employment process, one had better be able to enumerate his worth in words per minute, knowledge of operating systems and their respective applications, and acquaintance with a programming language or two; attention to detail, dependability and follow-up skills alone will no longer suffice. The doors of computer geekdom have been thrown open to John and Jane Doe, who, by society’s newly established Doctrine of Digitality, should be ashamed if they choose not to walk through them.
I am a 21st century spokesgirl. I inched through the doors some years ago, when at age eight, I enrolled in my first programming class. Today, staying abreast of technology has shifted from being pure fun to being obligatory. I speak in truncated words and acronyms, MB, gig, DVD, USB, CD-R and HTML being integral parts of my new lexicon. I am an avowed email addict, maintaining upwards of five active accounts via which I keep contact with friends and family abroad. I have a working knowledge of three programming languages, one of which I learned entirely via the web. I am well-versed in e-commerce, having purchased online everything from books and apparel to groceries and software. A music lover, today I seldom buy compact discs, as the coupling of digitally formatted music and the capabilities of the internet has given rise to the free (though legally precarious) exchange of files. Today I can easily access any sort of information on the ‘net and verify its validity almost instantaneously. Everyday I pose to myself the ubiquitous Microsoft question, “where do you want to go today?” and sometimes find myself at a loss for the ability to chose just a few answers from the infinite possibilities. Dare I consider what tomorrow will bring?
In the midst of all this progression, I cannot help but wonder exactly how long my right-brained leanings can coexist with my new digital tendencies. Also, I am always considering the possibility of a kind of over-convenience—the likelihood that we will at some point have taken matters entirely too far. That corporations have taken initiatives to extend computerization beyond the desktop simply forces me to fear for my life. My message to the corporate big wigs? For the love of humanity, slow down!