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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Refreshing a generation

    The alarm rings for the fourth time. You throw yourself out of bed and head straight to your laptop. First, check e-mail: then, brush teeth.

    You double-click on your browser. After a few seconds a window pops up. And then it happens. You gasp, slam a drawer and let out a sigh of aggravation. A horrific “”Cannot find server”” is all you see.

    Like a reflex, you press the “”refresh”” button and hold your breath. Nothing. You look around in desperation – “”Is everyone’s Internet broken?”” Because who knows: maybe the Internet Gods picked you personally.

    You close and open your computer, turn it off, restart it, then open the window, unplug the computer, pull it up and over your shoulder, and just as you are about to hurl it into traffic: “”Ding.””

    Yes, that lovely sound the computer sings when the beloved server is found and Internet access is granted. I like to think it is granted access from the heavens … but I have no proof to support that theory. E-mail is checked and all is right in the world.

    Every generation has its own battle – alcohol, weed, mullets – but our generation is battling the most horrendous, life-threatening obstacle yet … the Internet.

    Our mental and, at times, physical stabilities rely on a functioning Internet. When that it doesn’t work or simply isn’t fast enough, we go into withdrawal. A feeling of helplessness and disarray. It’s easy to spot someone in such withdrawal, more commonly known as “”refresh syndrome.””

    The Internet has become a life source for our generation. We depend on the Internet and technology in so many avenues of our daily lives.

    The classroom: Most of my classes provide grades online, and all of my professors communicate via e-mail. Even research papers now rely heavily on the Internet.

    How many of today’s students even know what a card catalogue is? It wouldn’t be difficult to make it through college without ever setting foot inside the library. We have Google, Wikipedia, online databases, encyclopedias and journals.

    Even registering for classes requires Internet access and a skilled plan of attack that involves 18 opened browsers and the “”refresh”” button to get the classes you need.

    Daily: The Yellow Pages, dictionaries and even newspapers have been rendered useless by the Internet. They all have online versions with a convenient little search engine.

    Driving: Maps, too, are out of business. Our generation needs that little red line drawn across the Mapquest map printout to get from point A to point B.

    Now this is not to say that we should just stop using all of these resources. The Internet is definitely easier and usually faster. But it’s interesting when you sit down and think about everything we use it for.

    The Internet was supposed to make our lives easier and more connected. Instead, it stresses us out and limits our human contact. We can e-mail instead of call. And “”poke”” wars have replaced flirting.

    We laugh about our need for our computers and cell phones and all the things we plug ourselves into every day, but in all honesty we truly rely too much on these luxuries. And the frustrations that come when the Internet doesn’t provide that immediacy are unbelievable.

    So what do we do? Well, quitting cold turkey never really works. If we cut off the Internet at the university, we would wake up with smashed computers on the streets and sidewalks. And no one wants to clean that up.

    And, regardless, there is no reason to stop using the Internet altogether. Use it for e-mail, social networking and for classes. Use it all in its full capacity. But let’s be careful that it doesn’t bring more stress and frustrations than benefits. Think of it as a backup plan. Indeed, have a plan of action if the Internet fails you. Learn to rely on other resources.

    I think there are still people alive who know how to use card catalogues, phone books, maps and dictionaries. By all means, don’t go there if you don’t have to. But in case of an emergency … have a strategy that keeps your mental stability and hard drive intact.

    Chelsea Jo Simpson is a junior majoring in journalism and
    Spanish. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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