When I was working, my colleagues would often come to me for help with their various computer problems. The problems would range from such things as, 'I can't remember the www thing for the site I go on' and 'I've got the logo for a porn site on my screen all the time and can't make it go away', to 'Google won't give me decent porn'. (Porn was a recurring theme.)
I sorted them out, because the answers were obvious (use a bookmark you plonk, you've used a bookmark you plonk and of course, you're missus has put the childrens settings on. You plonk) It did make me wonder though, why they thought I was the person to ask.
Well, OK, I kind of do know why they came to me; it's because I am rarely, if ever, not on the internet. If I'm awake, I'm on the internet, or I'm planning what I'm going to do or 'say' next time I am on. But what my colleagues didn't realise, is that there is a big difference between being online and having the vaguest of clues about what you're doing.
You see, personally, I know about as much about the workings of the internet as your average 5yr old. By 6, they've left me in their dust. The sheer size of it intimidates me, so I just sort of skirt around the edges, doing image searches for pop stars, looking up episode guides for TV shows and of course, checking the D O B's of famous teens before I publicly admit to fancying them. (This last constitutes 89% of the internet usage of 98% of men. The other 2% are blind)
The answer to why I'm not at home on the internet, despite spending almost all of my waking time poring over it, is that deep down; I'm talking DEEP down, under the bitter resentment toward my family, the vile self-loathing about my social inadequacies and the years of pent up sexual frustration; is a sure and certain knowledge that I just don't get it. I don't.
I can tweet. Yes, I can tweet, and I do tweet. I would even go so far as to say that twitter, and the act of tweeting, have become the defining motivation behind my getting up in the, er, afternoon. Whether what I tweet has any intrinsic merit beyond simply getting the inane witterings out of my head; thus allowing me to remain relatively sane for one more day; is a debatable point of course, but one, perhaps for another time.
I can blog. I currently write 3 blogs, which update on Mondays (this one), Wednesdays (The Impossible Quest) and Fridays (Untitled Blog About Stories). I say they update on those days but what I actually mean is that they update on those days on the weeks I can actually put something together; rare indeed is the week that they all go up.
And then there are the aforementioned image searches and TV episode guides (invaluable for the Quest since CultTimes got canceled; oh CultTimes, how do I miss you? Let me count the ways...), and so on but that's about it. Even the forum which I joined as my very first internet-enabled act (yes, before I even searched 'free porn'), has seen my patronage disappear.
And that right there is my first reason for not 'getting' the internet. I do only those very few things, and they eat my life. I don't understand how people can do all the other wondrous things that the internet allows, and still sleep enough to stay sane:
Facebook (I have a page. I don't use it. I occasionally look at it, then cower in terror)
Tumblr (this one baffles me to be fair, but seems to involve something called GIFs)
Youtube (they make their own videos!)
Various chatrooms I don't know the names of because I've never been on them
Skype (don't really know what it is but people use it, amongst other things, to make...)
Podcasts (you can essentially make your own radio show! And people listen!)
I know people. I say I know them; I 'know' them to 'talk' to online; who do all of these things, and lead something resembling a normal life at the same time. I've not really been able to work out how, but my current working theory is that they're robots. Anyway, I know these people and, in many cases, I like them. I would dearly love to be able to engage further with them.
Perfect example; recently, one of these people anounced that they were setting up a new podcast, and asked for volunteers to take part. Would I have liked to take part? You bet I would, but since I have no clear idea of what Skype is, much less how it works, it would have been pointless my putting my hand up. This is far from the only time I've been in this situation; merely the most recent.
Because that's reason number two. Not only do I not have time to engage in all of these many and varied (and I'm sure wonderful, except facebook, obviously) activities, I simply don't have any idea how. I posted a couple of videos on this blog recently - took me 3 attempts - but they were transported directly from my phone to the laptop. The idea of editing them, cleaning up the sound, cutting out the dead bits... no clue.
Tumblr is another one. I have no real clue how it works; I hear the phrase Dash, and I kind of think I know what it means, but... I occasionally click a link from Twitter that leads to a Tumblr post and I look at one line, or a photo, or a GIF (I know what a GIF is, but would have ZERO clue how to go about making one), and it's this one tiny little piece of content, followed by 900 lines of XYZ 'reblogged' this and 'ZYX' reblogged this and if you're lucky 'THINGYMABOB reblogged this and added LOL'. I'm sorry, but what?
I bear no malice for those who do use these sites (except facebook, of course). I'm sure that, if you do understand them, they're wondrous places full of warm cameraderie and endless mutual affection, but... I just don't get it.
The big one of course, when it comes to the internet, is the dreaded DOWNLOADING. Now I personally have never illegally downloaded a song, show, comic or movie in my life. Not a single one. Now, I tell people that it's because of a deep seated morality and unwillingness to steal from hard working artists, and in fairness that is my primary reason. I'd be lying though, if I said that every now and again, once in a while, from time to time, the temptation hasn't struck *cough* Hurry The Fuck Up With Vampire Diaries ITV2 *cough*, but when it comes right down to it, I wouldn't even know where to start.
So when the youth of our nation is being carted off in the dead of night, handcuffed and hooded, to be loaded into the bowels of great steamers bound for Guantanamo because they traded screen grabs of The Avengers, I (and my former colleagues)shall sleep easy in my bed. I guess, being shit at the internet is good for something, eh?