I Grew Up On The Internet (And I Love It)

September 26 2015

Hey everyone! I'm S. I'm fifteen -- younger than the average listserver, I suspect.

When I was born, the internet had already been invented. I don't remember a time when it didn't have a presence in my life; I've been hanging out on the internet for basically as long as I've been sapient. I can split my childhood into stages based on where on the Internet I made my home.

First, when I was very small, there was Webkinz, and then Neopets. I look back on those sites with nostalgia, but I was too young for them to have an impact on my life. My first real community, at age ~eleven, was this site called Taste of Awesome. They posted "funny" pictures, but really only had a few old, tired jokes. One day I clicked onto page one thousand and whatever and I thought to myself, wow. This really isn't funny. I closed the window and never looked back.

The next place I found was Tumblr. The social justice community was new to me; it talked about fighting against oppression and injustice and I was totally, 100% hooked. I waited eagerly to turn thirteen so I could make my own account and post my own cool thoughts about social justice! It took me a while to become disillusioned; I felt that the community I loved had become less about real justice and more about semantics and power struggles. It just wasn't the same. I left for my next community: the rationalists.

Rationalism espouses thinking about your own failings and biases, and striving to make both yourself and the world less irrational. What really speaks to me is the willingness of the community to accept differences, to argue, and to be wrong. It's just a bunch of smart people, spread out over blogs and Tumblr and rationalist-specific websites, all trying to make life better.

Everyone needs a community, and I've had quite a few in my life. Right now, it's rationalism (google "Rationality: From AI to Zombies" if you want to learn more.) Part of what I love about growing up on the internet is the freedom to change who I am as I grow; to choose my own community, not based on geography or the circumstances of my birth, but on what makes me happy. Today, it makes me happy that we live in a world where people can argue and disagree, and all the while be trying to make the world a better place.

I think humanity's got it pretty good. Don't you?

Have a great day.

[email protected]
My couch, Toronto, Canada

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