Top 10 Internet THINGS (that influenced me) of the past decade – 2010s Edition

And for the decade edition! I first wrote a version of this for the 2000s.

Now that I am settled in adulthood, I feel that things have changed less. Ten years ago, I had already graduated from college and graduate school. By then, big life changes have happened. Granted, in the past ten years, my grandparents have passed all away—that generation has moved on…or in a cynical way, have completely disappeared, stored in medical and historical documents and the memories that we now have left in our mind.

But just like my 27-year-old self, the Internet has influenced me significantly in the last ten years. But more in the way that it has influenced everyone else as the Internet has completely matured and became a tool/power/resource/etc I am less reliant on my laptop as I used to be. And to my displeasure, I became reliant on my phone. But that’s the way I expect it to be, perhaps?

I have always been fond of technology, especially in the way that it connects people. I have always been curious about the new services. But more than the previous decade, I have become more cynical and jaded, swinging all the way from optimism (this service will save us all) to pessimism (this will destroy humanity!) But yet, I can’t deny my attraction to the way that technology makes it easier (and then sometimes complex). In the last decade, technology especially leveraging the collective power of the Internet has impacted my life in ways that I never anticipated.

In the 90s, it was very immature. In the 2000s, it was just trying to find its footing. In the last decade, it certainly was experimenting widely.

Anyway, let’s begin!

10. SoLoMo
Obviously as noted in Silicon Valley, Social Location Mobile! This idea wasn’t exactly that new to me. But the fact that it became a thing finally like nearly 5 years after I had studied and conceptualized it in college. And then it became a bigger thing in the last decade was what struck me. In college, I worked with a graduate student to ideate on the different ways that have location-based services would be like on a mobile device. Now back in 2003 and 2004, there was no such thing as a mobile phone as we have today. Back then, it was this idea of sharing your location or receiving ads. Before Minority Report. I thought that it was interesting, but I didn’t really have the mental framework to make it real. Then in late 2008 (right before I was laid off), I worked with an internal team to come up with an Android app that was essentially similar to Foursquare. Share where you’re at with friends! During the past decade, I was obsessed with Foursquare—later known as Swarm. Letting people know where I was. And in 2011/2012 when I finally relented to get a smartphone, I was obsessed. I would track everywhere I went, perhaps to a detriment. But today, it’s a bit less, a bit more practical. I still track. But it’s almost passive now as everything, everything knows where I am! But the history, now tagged in photos, now automatically shared. It’s assumed. And I am annoyed if the technology doesn’t know!

9. News
It’s hard to remember how I perceived news pre-2016. It’s likely that I paid attention when it mattered to me. Which really meant that I didn’t. But of course when 2016 hit and when the Internet was firing up on how to serve up content to willing consumers, I naturally became a big consumer of everything. I was someone who naturally liked clicking on clickbait headlines. I would like to say that I was rarely misinformed, but I am sure that I was. But with my love of pop culture, I had to know it all. Like all the time. Of course, remember the “did you read?” meme. I am still like that all the time. I need to know first.

8. Instagram/Snapchat
Little to say here, except that it was such a different way of communication. I might say that this kind of communication was out of reach for me. It was for a different kind of generation—that for once wasn’t for me. Yet, I tried. What was striking was that words were less vital. I can even tell that my own grasp for language was disappearing. Instead, it was replaced with short quips and images/stickers/emojis.

7. Youtube
More as a how to. It’s somehow became a way to pass the time in short bursts. Which can be somewhat disappointing in how I would like to control my attention span. 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes. Fine. But the most that i have learned from Youtube is from the cooking videos. I love them. Because in contrast to reading all the recipes online, I can actually see how it’s done. And I can emulate as much as possible! Of course though, this only reflects how domestic I have become.

6. Streaming content
Yet another domestic thing! As some article notes, the younger people nowadays are staying at home. Millenials are ruining the scenes! They are staying home and watching Netflix! And others! But it’s true. Maybe we get in less trouble as result because we have something else taking away our attention in a very mindless kind of way. But also, it’s an indication of peak TV. Creators of TV series and storytellers finally have a medium that gives them the space to tell stories in ways that the media hasn’t allowed them to do so. But that also means that their audience is more niche and…possibly more profitable!

5. Cloud storage
Well! Just all that my stuff is backed up. The idea that everything was just stored in one place was always anxiety-causing. Rest assured that it’s somewhere and not lost.

4. Online banking
Namely, online payment. I had always hated the idea of cash and then splitting up the credit card. It’s bad for restaurants. It’s bad for everyone. But now there’s an option to actually make it easier. As long as there’s someone who can calculate. Whatever the case, it’s better now that money can be sent informally to people without much hassle and manual reminders. Rent, splitting up checks, paying back all easy. Of course, what’s super annoying is if someone doesn’t accept my check. Don’t be dumb. Make it work. I’ll do it for anybody. Still bitter about that one moment that when I wrote a check to pay for a concert ticket circa 2011 and that person essentially tore it up into little pieces and threw it on the ground. “Fine,” I said. “I am not paying you back.”

3. Google Photos
Because all digital photos are now online. And I can search them. It has changed my life because it’s literally all I have ever wanted in finding something and showing people. And creating what I ever I wanted. Of course though I do understand that Google and its partners know me inside and out.

2. Career networks or interest groups
Facebook groups are oddly the best part of Facebook. I had a biking group. Then this incredible writing group(s) that completely changed my writing life. Also in this category, I would also count the Slack communities (when they were actually active) or Linkedin. I never would have connected with some people if it wasn’t for this. In essence, they are community boards like back in the day, but because of their niche, they are so much more than that.

1. Messaging
In the previous decade of the aughts, I wrote AIM. But of course, people stopped using it and transferred over to using other services. I never quite got used to Skype because it felt so businessy. Instead, I hung around Google hangouts and Facebook messenger. Love love it so much. But it’s less because I talk to people on it all the time, but more because it offers a quick way to know that I can connect with people at any time.

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