A few days ago, my friend told me that, as a UCLA student, we have unlimited Google Drive storage. As a regular Google drive user, I only get 15 GB of storage, which is not enough for me. So I began the process of deleting old files and moving ones I wanted to keep to my UCLA Google Drive.
In the process of switching over, I stumbled upon an old personal statement of mine. Reading it was a very nostalgic experience. I laughed at my high school self; the topic was pretentious and I’ve grown a long way as a writer. But the message and the heart of it still resonates with me today and I’m honestly glad that this part of me hasn’t changed. Without further adieu, here’s a bit about me and my relationship with the Internet.
The world I come from is hosted online. I grew up in a society where we can’t help but obsess over our smartphones and laptops every waking minute; a society where companies like Google want to provide Third World countries with access to the Internet before necessities like food and water. The Internet is so much a part of our culture that I’d be a drastically different person today without it. My second home online has helped me foster my interests and develop entirely new ones.
If it weren’t for the advent of the World Wide Web, I wouldn’t love half the things that define who I am. The Internet is my number one tool for discovery and helps me find troves of diamonds in the rough. My eclectic tastes in music, ranging from indie-pop to heavy metal to the spoken word and back, can be attributed to the many music sharing sites available online. When my mom brought home a dusty old keyboard for my grandmother one day, I erroneously searched “teach myself piano” to master the instrument and create renditions of my favorite songs. My eager first attempts were failures, though they only made me push myself harder, teach myself the basics, and learn not to butcher the works of my musical idols. Though I’m not a concert pianist, I wouldn’t even be able to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” today without the internet and its infinite supply of knowledge only a click away.
My own lifelong interests only expanded the deeper I entrenched myself into the cyber world. Reading has always been a great love of mine and I’ve never begrudged the activity for taking up hours of my childhood. I reveled in consuming the stories great writers before me had written, so it isn’t a surprise that I took to the romantic idea of being a writer in my early teen years. The tacky, bad poetry I started off with eventually developed into short stories and not-so-bad poetry as I exposed myself to the classics and lesser-known works online. This inspiration led me to take my biggest step into the literary world; taking on the task of penning my first novel, Watching Rian Keller, as part of National Novel Writing Month. The Internet connected me to the NaNoWriMo community where I made lifelong friends with other aspiring writers, who encouraged me through the grueling process of crafting a novel. The entire experience of NaNoWriMo, of completing my magnum opus, left me feeling more content and proud of myself than ever.
But of course, I’m not viewing my screen through rosy-eyed glasses. I know the Internet isn’t all success stories and warm feelings. My world taught me that there will always be those who still stop at nothing to hurt you, discourage you, and bring you down. My novel and other works took a great deal of hate from flamers and trolls when I published them online for some reviews. Although the majority of comments were endearing and supportive, some sought to weaken my morale. By weathering these comments and taking them in stride, I’ve come to realize that although my home away from home isn’t perfect, I wouldn’t give it up for anything. The Internet helped me mature and grow into the determined individual I am today, one prepared for a world away from the keyboard.