Me: Can you remember what your first impression of the internet was?
Rebecca: I was fairly young when I started using the internet – maybe about 8 or 9 – so I don’t remember much about my first impression of it. I do remember that to begin with I saw it mostly as an extension of the computer I had already been using for a few years, and that I used it to play games and not much else. I also remember thinking chatrooms were pretty scary places early on and avoiding them.
Me: Were your parents ever strict about internet rules or wary of you making friends online?
Rebecca: They didn’t have specific internet rules but when I started making friends online they were definitely wary, although more so my father than my mother. They told me not to give out my address or any personal information and just to generally be careful. I was about 13 the first time I met up with a friend I had made online, and my dad accompanied me. Funnily enough, when I got there I found my friend’s dad had accompanied her too!
Me: How has the internet influenced your life for the better?
Rebecca: I think one of the most wonderful things about the internet is that it allows you to meet people you would never meet otherwise. I’ve moved homes a lot of times and in doing so I’ve discovered that you don’t always find people you get along with everywhere you go. Equally, I imagine there are many people who have never moved homes and also have a hard time finding people to relate to. I’ve gotten to know people from all over the world online, and I’ve enjoyed so much listening to their stories and sharing mine. It’s lovely being able to say that I have a friend in France, a friend in Spain, a friend in the United States, a friend in Argentina – and in many cases a place to stay, too, if I ever would like to visit those places. Aside from allowing me to form those friendships, the internet has also been invaluable to me in my field of study. I’m a scientist and nowadays most scientific publications can be found online, where they are far more easily accessible than before where you would have to go to a university library to search for a specific article that you needed for your research. The internet is a fantastic tool and I would say has definitely influenced my life for the better both in a personal and a professional sense.
Me: What’s your go-to website and why?
Rebecca: Tumblr, nowadays. I think it’s a very efficient and user-friendly blogging platform and I like how easy it is to post both images and text on Tumblr blogs. There’s also a really good community on Tumblr and I’ve made a lot of friends through there.
Me: Where do you think you would be without the internet?
Rebecca: It’s hard for me to even imagine life without the internet now, as I imagine it is for many people. I think I’d definitely be more lonely, and a lot of the difficulties I’ve had to face would have been so much harder to get through. There are certain problems that it’s difficult to talk about to other people face to face, and my online friends have helped me through some really tough times just by lending a (virtual) ear to listen. I’m really grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to meet the people I’ve met online, and I feel my life is a lot richer with them than it would be without them.