“The substance of what it means to be a geek is essentially someone who’s brave enough to love something against judgment. The heart of being a geek is a little bit of rejection.” – Felicia Day, one of the original Internet geeks. I saw her speak at Housing Works about her memoir and she is just the greatest.
The other “job perks” posts I’ve written so far have related to cool events or discounts that I’ve been lucky to experience working in the travel industry, but there are also a lot of quieter, smaller-scale perks that are part of my daily routine.
One of these, though it’s becoming less and less a part of my job these days, is creating content. This means written content: blog posts, tweets, photo captions, blurbs for e-mail newsletters or website copy; and it also means visual content (curating photos to use, trying to figure out how to create infographics, swearing loudly at said infographics).
Creation, basically. And the Internet. Creativity and the Internet are two of my favorite things in life, and even though it means that I am staring at a computer screen all day and sometimes pulling my hair out trying to figure out why a certain graphic I’m working on doesn’t look the way I pictured it in my head, it means that I am doing what I love on a daily basis, and, by extension, nerding out pretty hard in the process (which is my third favorite thing after Creativity and the Internet).
I think I’ve been creating things on the Internet for an average of 10 hours a day ever since I first discovered the Internet over a decade ago. (this math is based on how buff the little muscles in my typing fingers are: a true measure of time and Internet usage.)
My friends and I were all over AIM and Napster and creating playlists and such when we were 12 and 13, which I think is when my generation really started hard with the Internet. Shortly after that, I discovered FanFiction (shut up, most of you knew about this) and that’s how I spent so many of my nights in high school, staying up until midnight writing stories and posting them anonymously to the Internet for strangers to read. When I was at school, I’d write notes for stories in the margins of my math and religion and science notebooks during class.
In college, social media happened. Facebook launched in 2004 but really blew up around 2006 — my freshman year of college*. So everyone my age had this weird balance of trying to discover this whole new college world outside of our comfort zone versus trying to discover this whole new Internet community at the same time – a community that allowed us to still see what was going on with our friends back home.
My high school friends and I had — and still do have, to this day — a private Facebook group where we’d post weekly — sometimes daily, during a particularly dramatic week — updates about boys, classes, boys, mostly just boys, and then sometimes boys. Instead of staying up late every night writing love letters to the Internet in the form of fan fiction, I’d stay up late every night writing love letters to my friends on Facebook.
Now, of course, the Internet has taken over all of our lives, and so in a typical day I wake up, check my e-mail on my phone, read through Twitter on my way to work, spend literally all day at work doing social media things, scroll through my Tumblr feed on my phone on my way home, listen to a Spotify playlist or a podcast, get home and put on Netflix while eating dinner, maybe read through a few blog posts or update my own, go to sleep. Of course, this isn’t my exact schedule every day — I do see daylight sometimes, under protest.
But I love it. The Internet is my absolute favorite thing. And when people start to protest that the Internet is ruining all of our lives and the ways that we interact with each other, I can’t help but roll my eyes. I wish I had a whole folder full of text messages, Facebook group posts, e-mails from my friends and my parents and my grandma and the occasional pen-pal, FanFiction comments, hilarious tweets, and beautifully written blog posts, so that I could shove this folder at those people and be like, “Do you see all these little loving messages and funny jokes and insanely beautifully written articles and insanely beautifully crafted photographs and insanely useful Pinterest DIYs that probably wouldn’t have become part of my life or your life or anyone’s life if the Internet had never become a thing?”
So I am grateful. First of all for the Internet, and second of all for having a job that requires me to be on the Internet for most of every day of every week, which is probably how I’d be spending my time anyway even if I didn’t have this job.
*I know that MySpace happened before Facebook but weirdly, I was never that interested in MySpace. I think I thought that MySpace was too cool for me, and I was probably still writing FanFiction around this time, so that hypothesis was absolutely correct.