Learn how to breakdance and shop for slacks in Samoa, all while chomping chicken in your mama's kitchen watching Free Willy on the wayside. The Internet is more than a capability — it's lifestyle.
It's taking night classes in Taiwan while buying socks in Tibet.
A technological oxymoron, the Internet is global. It's universal.
You can close the gaps between destination and departure; let your fingers do the walking in the most literal sense. Through e-mail, instant messaging and chat, long-distance carriers are holding their breath and turning green with envy. But worry is stirring in other circles who wonder if non-verbal communication is becoming the numb lock of a nation.
Growing up, I didn't have the convenience of confidence. I had a TV and root beer upbringing.
The other kids would spend their summer down the block downing and end zoning while I ruffled through I Love Lucy and a lifetime of network syndications. I thought I was happy with my own company.
Then one day, the family ditched the old dot matrix printer and I was suddenly knee-deep in streaming Internet, connecting me to the rest of the world in a most unusual way.
I started connecting to people through instant messenger and even joined a pen pal site to which I am still a member. I traded staying up 'til 2 a.m. watching the TV Guide channel, for browsing and mingling the worldwide from the comfort of my fingertips.
I learned how to live through words. I learned to understand the ins and outs of conversation with people — what you can and can't say, what will make you laugh and what will make you uncomfortable. I learned the dynamics of discussion without leaving my chair.
There's a fear that we are becoming a closeted culture. That the world is coming so close we can't see it for what it is — real.
I know that without the Internet I might still be in my basement waiting for the world to come out and play.
ADAM BASS, 19, is a student at Northern Kentucky University.