“Alright, who’s online? My page isn’t loading!”
“It’s not me, I’m just on Facebook.”
“It’s Zach, he’s watching Minecraft videos again!
“No, I’m not! I’m playing a game, it’s not even online!”
This is an every day conversation in my family, shouted from bedrooms, the kitchen and the rumpus room: The age old battle of who stole the internet. In my household online usage, supply and demand, connection speed and connectivity are vitally important. We are living in a shifting realm, where home, work, education and recreational spaces are becoming more entangled online and therefore with each other. In the evenings after the work, uni and school times are finished, each family member will retreat to their own space and continue doing, pretty much what they were doing during the day, but in the home environment.
This phenomena, the networked home, is a common occurence causing two ideologies to emerge. The first is from Sherry Turkle who suggests that the more we connect online the less we are able or willing to connect in person. The online world has enabled sharing across boarders, but without restrictions has disabled sharing in our own homes. Through her presentation she recommended a home detox, actually being with our families and learning the skill of conversation. The other side of the spectrum was developed in Danah Boyd’s novel “It’s Complicated”, where she creates the concept of the online world becoming a retreat for teens and therefore and innate feature for their involvement in society.
With these two thoughts in mind as well and the slow but imminent truth of the NBN’s arrival across
ss Australia, I spoke once again to my Mum to gain a different perspective. As a side note, I will add that my Mum knew more about the NBN and what they were planning than I did prior to watching at home with the NBN and therefore I went straight to the horses mouth and found out exactly what Australian’s were to expect. From this, I learned that the roll-out of the new fibre optic cables will take no time at all with everyone having access, the new system going in is designed to be upgraded and the idea of the faster internet enhances all areas of living. However, I am well aware that the National Broadband Network is selling a product to some and an idea to others, therefore, these goals, for the most part could be unrealistic.
When asked how she felt this increased internet access would affect her she replied:
“I like people, not machines.”
In her opinion, the arrival of the NBN in our country town, however long it takes, will make no difference to her. Now, don’t get confused, my Mum is fairly tech savvy, knowing how to find her way around online (in fact she is better at using search engines than myself) but for her, online usage and remaining ‘connected’ in the IRL sense comes from choice. She believes the increased speed and connection of the internet will cause an increase of uninterested interaction in the home life. My sister then added an idea that blatantly proved her point: more people can be online at the same time, downloading their own videos, to watch in their own time. This conversation in itself, highlighted the difference in thought from generations, with one side suggesting that it will only increase barriers to communication saying this is negative, with the other rejoicing in this fact.
I wanted to stretch my reach of insight on the impacts the internet in general will have on a our society with this mindset as a backdrop and so went to the Pew research page to see different thoughts presented. This then lead me to the article “15 predictions for the future of the internet ” which looked at thoughts from nearly 1,500 internet experts on the progression of the web. In these findings they believed that the internet will become like electricity, central but invisible to our societies core functionality. However, even though most agreed on this, there was great debate about what the implications of this movement would be and therefore how it would shape values within cultures.
When I looked at these predicted outcomes against the thoughts my Mum had towards the NBN, I found it easy to understand why she would have considered this kind of growth negatively. In our home where family time is encouraged through joint meal times, movie nights, continual flow of conversation and a general jovial, loving vibe, it would be a negative thing to disrupt that flow, or hinder any other family from experiencing the same joy we do in our house. Therefore, I’m glad the introduction of the NBN will take its sweet time; it allows us to understand what matter most and hopefully enjoy it for longer, even with faster connection speeds.