Sunday, March 30, 2014

Guest blog...Because the Internet

(I'm pleased to introduce my first guest blogger, John Peters, my 15-year-old nephew who is a freshman at Porter-Gaud School in Charleston. This was a paper for his English class)

George Orwell wrote about our destruction by things we hated like an oppressive government, but Aldous Huxley wrote about our destruction by things we loved like TV. If Huxley had written his famous book A Brave New World sometime in the last decade or so, he definitely would have included the Internet in his criticisms. The Internet has, for some, created a lifeline to other people that have the same interests or hobbies but would be otherwise unreachable. This is a very good thing most of the time, but it can sometimes cause disconnect from the present. The Internet has completely reformed the way its users and everyone around them go about their lives every day. 

The Internet is used every day and affects everyone. It is a vast and infinite tool that can figure out almost anything. The Internet is a tool that has become so essential and ubiquitous that if it were to disappear, even if for just a day, panic would ensue. We have become so reliant on the Internet that even the pettiest daily activities are planned around it. Choices of restaurants, hotels, and social event venues are often controlled by whether or not that place has an internet connection. That being said it has completely changed the way its users think, and don’t think.

The Internet has had a fair share of negative effects on its users. Its overuse can sometimes become addicting. Insomnia is one side effect of internet addiction. Internet addiction may sound rare and serious, but mild cases are shockingly widespread. What would you do in a room with a book and an iPhone? If you’re anything like me, you’d most likely disregard the book and go on Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, or Facebook. It may be a sad truth to some, but it’s the truth nonetheless. The Internet has created and transferred more sub-cultures from the book to the screen than almost every work of literature. I am proud to say that I’m a recipient of the Edgar Allen Poe newsletter.
    
People that don’t know much about the Internet often assume that it consists of only Facebook and cyberbullying. But I can say first hand that the websites I visit in my free time are predominantly educational. Educational not necessarily in the school sense of the word, but more so the learning sense. I spend a large part of my recreational internet use on a website called Rapgenius.com, which is a site where users can annotate the lyrics of rap songs, rock songs, news stories, and even poetry.
    
The Internet has changed the way we look at the world, but whether it’s for better or for worse is your choice. The Internet is a community bound together by certain common interests and hobbies. It is an outlet for the oppressed, a blank slate for the voiceless, and a family for the hopeless.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Dog Named Sam

I caught a flash of a rust colored fan of a dog tail darting between two herbie curbies as I drove home from my parents' house. My dog karma instinct immediately kicked in...it was a golden retriever who looked like a smaller version of our long-gone but much-loved Beaufort.

I had to stop.

I pulled out the dog biscuits I keep in my car console. As I opened the car door thinking I'd have to coax the dog to me, he bounded over. He had a collar and tags - good news.

I found the tag. His name was Sam...the name of my childhood dog. He was friendly, even loving. He nuzzled my knee as I scratched his ears while I dialed the number on the tag.

No answer. I left a message and debated next steps still just enjoying scratching Sam's ears while he nuzzled my knee like my golden retriever Dixie does every day. There’s just something peaceful about that nuzzling.

Then, I'm knocked back to the moment. The phone rings and the owner identified Sam. The owner was just minutes away at the store. Sam was only a block from home so I loaded him up in the car. He jumped right in. I hope he has a loving family, I thought. I hope someone scratches his ears when he nuzzles their knee.

I gripped his collar as I walked him up the driveway to the front door. I really hoped a gleeful child would greet us so thankful the beloved family dog was home.

I heard a woman on the phone coming out the side door yelling Sam’s name swearing she hadn't let the dog out. Sam pulled out of my grip and rounded the corner toward the voice. He seemed happy to see her...she kept yelling into the phone she hadn't let the dog out.

I waved, got in the car and drove home where Dixie greeted me with a knee nuzzle. She had an escape episode a few years ago, and I always feel I owe a debt to dog karma for the guy who rescued her and her canine companion in the middle of a busy road and called me.

Maybe a few cents deposited back in the dog karma bank for the next time I need it, thanks to Sam.