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« Ten years later | Home | About Joshua and the … »

Oh, wonderful, the Internet!

column February 2005 Tuesday 15 February 2005

Recently, I sat in the train to Utrecht, when in Zwolle five women boarded, sat down in my vicinity, and clearly made their presence known.  They were not spring chickens anymore, the youngest perhaps pushing fourty and the others well on their way to sixty.  They practiced Art, I overheard, with a capital A.  They were on their way to some Art event and were fascinated by Art .  The youngest looked artistic as well; raven black hair and solid black clothing.  I don’t understand why some people love to wear black while it really doesn’t suit them.  Black is a slimming color, but black also makes the face look pale and often that’s more obvious than that extra layer of fat.  Artists in particular have an affinity for black, I’ve noticed, so presumably it’s some sort of artistic expression.

The ladies were chatting away while one of them, a “liberal”, super slim type of woman, was eating dark, whole grain bread and carrots.  Personally, I always eat almond paste-filled cakes and Twix  while riding the train, so I observed her with admiration and respect.  Her graying hair was bound together in a thin ponytail, she had clever glasses on her straight little nose, and a set of dark, passionate eyes.  And she had an opinion.  More than one even.  With a deep voice (how did such a whisp of a woman get such a deep bass?  Maybe, in spite of the healthy carrots and sandwich, she was a chain smoker?) she proclaimed her opinion, which I as a lay woman in Art couldn’t possibly comment on, so perhaps she was right.  The other women didn’t react to her statements.  The two closest to me were swooning over a teacher who was such an amazing artist, and such a terrific educator.  I smiled quietly.  Sixteen or sixty, what’s in an age?  Apparently, swooning is something we girls do at all ages.  Then suddenly the conversation switched from Art to computers and the carrot lady fell silent, because she obviously didn’t know the first thing about computers and she didn’t want to either.  A computer was... well, whatever it was didn’t really matter for it wasn’t Art.  However, the other women were familiar with the computer and they sent each other e-mails now and then.  That worked very well, one of them remarked, except for those troublesome attachments, which she really didn’t know how to do.  Not to worry, her neighbor said, she would show her next time they would get together and all would be fine.  Then the discussion led to the Internet and its endless possibilities.  The carrot lady disapprovingly pursed her lips and remained silent.  You could see her thinking, “all those innovations and for what?”  “Oh lady”, I thought, “curiosity is good for so many people and a multitude of things.”  Sure, you need to handle the Internet with caution and it could become addictive.  At the help agencies for alcohol-, drugs-, and gambling addictions there are now therapies for the Internet addicted as well, or so I heard.  Therefore, it is wise to carefully navigate the Internet, with wisdom and moderation.

In my opinion the Internet is a wonderful medium, not only for the information about countless topics it has to offer, but also because it brings many folks in contact with the outside world.  I know some  people who are shut-ins because of disease or a disability, but who, thanks to the Internet, do maintain good social contacts.  For the elderly, too, it is god-sent.  E-mailing a grandchild who lives in another country, gathering advice about medical issues and, as previously mentioned, the social contacts with those outside their own four walls. For example, www.seniorweb.nl with all the help and the information it offers is a frequently visited site and not only by the elderly.  There are so many interesting sites – I have a long list of them in my “Favorites” folder, varying from search engines to “Grandma’s Tips”, a translation site (ideal for my English correspondence), and fun sites for sending digital greeting cards.  “Daily Thought” is another wonderful site, where a new expression or wisdom is published every day and, if you want, you can even get it  automatically deposited into your mailbox.  The most beautiful ones I collect in my Word folder “Poems and other good stuff”.  Oh, wonderful, the Internet!  It has so much to offer, a wealth of information and all those interesting discussions.  To be honest, I avoid matters that are of no interest to me, for what is the use of a forum with destructive discussions and continuous yelling matches?  Who gains from verbal aggression that only brings forth more aggressive feelings?  No, the Internet is for fun, beautiful, and interesting things and, therefore, for many people an enrichment.

The lady in the train didn’t want to know about computers and the Internet, which, likely, is a case of “unknown makes unloved”.  However, I suspect that if she would surf the Internet and encounter all the information available about Art she would quickly change her mind about the Internet and all its “novelty”.  For this lady I quote a Daily Thought:, “She who fears what’s new must realize that the old was once new.”

Text : Dini Commandeur  Translation: Maria O’ Neill


 

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