It’s been 30 years since World Wide Web (www) was invented, but my wife and I missed it because we are what are known as “late adopters” of technology.
In the tech world there are three types of people; those who jump at the chance of being the first to use any new technology, then there are others who will wait to see how those people rate this new technology and read about their experience in using it, and then there are us, the “laggards”, who will wait a couple of years until that technology gets much cheaper.
Some say ‘www’ has been the best invention ever since the discovery of the telephone that helped millions of women around the globe escape from the drudgery of their boring homes and delve into the magic realm of gossip and fake news.
I do not understand how I could have missed such a groundbreaking technology that helps people surf online and connect with people around the globe in an instant, and where you do not need to speak to anyone.
I don’t remember which year it was, but late in the night when everyone was asleep I would slink off to the den in our apartment and try to quietly switch on the modem. We had a dial-up from Rogers, our service provider in Canada, and it made loud and funny chirping noises, which would bring my wife into the room, just as I was entering a Yahoo chatroom.
“It’s late, go to sleep,” she would say, scaring me as she looked over my shoulder. “Are you going on the internet to chat with strange people?” she would say, in an accusing voice.
“Remember there is an agency that keeps track of people like you, where you go online,” she would say, happy that someone from the government was looking after my interests.
“Nooo,” I would say. “I have to research for an article I am writing. Isn’t it wonderful we have all this information at our fingertips,” I would say ecstatically.
Like the Facebook friends of today, who are not exactly your friends, but some ethereal beings in the clouds, the chatroom friends I made were even stranger, but it was fun chatting with them because they did not know who I was, and I could be whatever I wished.
I remember the time when there was no internet or the ‘www’ (I am not sure which is which and keep confusing the two) and Saddam Hussain, dictator of Iraq, had walked into Kuwait after threatening it, and I, a journalist, did not know anything about this breaking news happening just next door.
Very soon I would know how important information is, when he started launching Scud missiles towards where I was.
I, however, remember how the magic box, the TV, or television, came to our neighbourhood, and how it brought images of wars and other fun things, right into our living rooms and changed our humdrum lives in the quiet suburb of a south Indian town.
It also helped cut across the age-old barriers of caste and brought people together (even the maids) into the living room every Sunday when a mythological drama, from the epic Mahabharata, would be aired that showed people the fight between right and wrong.
While ‘www’ has been useful to my wife and I, we have now become paranoid and do not trust anything online thinking there are crooks out there trying to steal things from us like our identity and the many passwords I have come up with over the years, that include characters, numbers, ampersands and my wife’s birth date.
Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi