- a thank you
I’m mostly writing this because I can’t thank the world wiLD web enough for making me the person I am today.
I remember when my mother came back home from work, a bit later than usual, she called our names and asked us to come to the living room and cover our eyes. We walked in excited, probably trying to peek through our fingers. My memory fails me when I try remembering what happened next but I remember being excited about having our very own Personal Computer (PC). I’d like to think that our reaction made my mother happy, she was always very thoughtful in her gift pickings, still is. There must have been some laughing and hugging, and kissing mama’s forehead. Thank yous, so many thank yous. Of course, it wasn’t the first time we saw a PC, we used computers in school but we weren’t allowed to RUN anything other than DOS commands.
My mother taught us everything back then. She created our first emails, mine was sara25oct(at)hotmail(dot)com, I don’t remember the password, but I remember she said that it had to be something easy to remember but still sort-of professional, for when we had to fill in official forms when we were older. I don’t use that email anymore.
She taught us how to type the correct way, both index fingers on ‘f’ and ‘j’ keys, the other three on the letters next to them, thumbs on the spacebar, hands sit still on the keyboard. When it was difficult to remember the letters, she got us educational CDs to play typing games, that way, we could have fun, and learn at the same time.
My mother bought me a CD with an entire encyclopedia, when I started showing a special interest in science and how things became and existed. I vaguely remember a gigantic tree, and the branches in it were different subjects in science, technology and philosophy.
My mother introduced me to video games, not knowing that she was a huge contributor to the occasional gamer in me. Back then, gaming consoles were strictly prohibited because it was a boy’s hobby. She’d show me how to search for games, which ones were safe for my age, keywords and tips I could use to find what I’m looking for.
Google Search: Free DOS games
Google Search: Download free DOS skyroads
Google Search: Download Free games
Google Search: Free online games
My father despised computers, the Internet and technology altogether. He’d yell, “This is the cause of fassad al mojtamaa’, I don’t want it in my house”. I remember my parents always getting into arguments, and somehow for some reason, the Internet was to blame. Back then, my grades were dropping, but it wasn’t because of the Internet, if anything, the Internet helped me go through so many stages in my life.
Learning how to search for free anything was how I got to see naked people for the first time. Limewire was an early peer-to-peer sharing program, people uploaded music, games, software etc. I remember my mother teaching me how to use the program, and one of the things we downloaded ended up being a porn video. It took my mother a while to realize what was going on, and she flung herself in front of me and we gave me my first internet-searching tip: “Ok, anything with XXX, don’t ever download it. It’s a virus and viruses can ruin the computer. You won’t be able to play Captain Claw if the computer is ruined”
As sad as it may seem to anyone reading this, I created my own social life, a cyber social life; a life that didn’t abide to a physical location, or a specific time zone. During a time when I felt like I didn’t belong in my own house, I found a beautiful scattered home. I got into forums, learned a lot about different cultures, lifestyles, religions, thoughts, ways to express emotions, forms of creativity etc. I vaguely remember a public chat rooms phase, those were weird –to say the least- but quite fascinating. I got catfished at least 5 times, before the show catfish even coined the term, back then everyone who was lied to would express their emotions about being betrayed, and then moved on.
I don’t see a me in this or any other universe, that isn’t heavily exposed to technology. I ended up graduating with a BA in Networking and Security, and I loved every bit of it. People had mixed reactions when I told them this, some would frown, others would say it was easy, but most people expressed their concerns about why a woman would want to do a man’s job. I loved how it constantly challenged me, forced me to think creatively, made me cry in our final lab projects, the feeling of euphoria when a program I coded from scratch worked and looked the way I planned earlier that year. Programming courses accidentally got me into Glitch Art, and appreciating the beautifully broken images.
More than academic satisfaction, being part of generation dial-up introduced me to people from all over the world. People I can unhesitantly call great friends, role models, and even soulmates. I grew up on “Don’t trust anyone on the Internet”, my mother always warned me. She still does.
I’ve met incredible human beings through these webpages, film photographers who travel the world, artists who strive, writers that made me laugh, poets that made me cry. I’ve been exposed to opinions, stories, news that frustrated me, but helped me understand where I stand on a lot of topics. The Internet helped me document my highschool and university years, the beginning and end of friendships and crushes, all the confusion and panic that came with sleepless nights. The Internet is the reason this website exists, this community of soft, loving and unconditionally supportive creatives, all here to share bits of themselves through this platform. From this platform, I got over my ridiculous shyness, I got the opportunity to teach kids and adults how to create things, I met people that challenged and motivated me to not only be a good artist, but to always be a better, kinder version of myself. The Internet helped me develop an art practice that is constantly evolving.
Through these endless lines of 1s and 0s, I’ve stayed in contact with friends who ended up abroad; there for each other during tough times, graduations, weddings, funerals, anniversaries, breakups; connected as often as life always us and checking up on each other through Wi-Fi.
For that, and to them, I’m grateful.
TEXT & ART:
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES/