My Identity Was Forged on the Internet: a millennial trying to make sense of her world


It was sometime around the age of 12, I think, when I really started forming a sense of self-identity. I have proof of it– its adolescence– in the form of an old e-mail account I made at that time:

My identity was forged on the Internet. I’ve just realized this.

I guess that firmly situates me among the millennial generation. But as a pioneer of the Internet, I carry with it the weight of centuries; I use the Internet the way that I imagine a nineteenth-century, time-traveling artist would. It is a miraculous, unfathomable collection of information. Precious, precious information. I can look at a painting that is thousands of miles away, that I would never see in my lifetime… In a second. On a whim. In my pocket. Wherever I go. I’ll never be able to forget a beautiful poem because it is stored in this tremendous cloud of consciousness. It is a vast depository for all of humanity’s greatest accomplishments. Sure, it has become full of a lot of other things… Mostly other things (mostly porn)… But it has all of those positive things too. The Internet gives you what you put into it. And the options are infinite.

I still see its sheen of glory: the great democratizing, ubiquitous force that the baby-boomers brought into fruition. A technological gesture that said “Let everyone in the world learn from eachother and connect with eachother.”

I can meet– and have met– people from everywhere across the world on the Internet. I have made deep and lasting connections with people from every continent*.  By doing nothing more than sitting down at a keyboard somewhere in the comfort of my home. A conglomeration of ideas from all over the world. THE WORLD. The Internet has made me feel like a  global citizen. Someone who sees herself– and humanity– in people from everywhere. I wonder if this has anything to do with the progressive social values of millennialis.

We don’t understand the world’s divisions as they’ve existed. Because on the Internet, we’ve all been hanging out together, wasting time and doing pointless shit together. We’ve been playing video games together and talking about the same funny videos together, sharing music with each other. Us millennialis have just been chillaxin’ with each other for most of our lives. I feel like my global peers are my buddies. Text on a screen has no race, no religion, no political affiliation . I just met people’s ideas: this was that pioneering era of chat rooms and forums. You only saw their picture after you had actually talked to them; you had to ask for it, and it could be easily refused. We weren’t all advertising ourselves the way we do now, not until MySpace (and yes, it was once a thing).

This is the Internet I know: the wonderous playground of ideas, a space of unlimited potential, that anyone can participate in… Given the freedom. It is on the Internet that I feel my freedom most deeply. Yeah, the NSA might be tracking everything we do or whatever, but this doesn’t worry me because I doubt if they’re terribly interested in which volume of The Keats-Shelley journal I’m reading, or the documentary on transsexual couples in Britain that I watched last night, or the ABBA songs I’m streaming. The Internet is my playground, where I feel like anything is possible, where I have access to whatever I can imagine, and where I feel connected to humans everywhere.


*With the exception of Antarctica