The World Wide Web became available to the public back in the 90’s. I was hearing a lot about it but struggled with its concept. I couldn’t visualize what a website actually looked like on a computer screen. So, I took a class with an assistive technology teacher and she did a good job describing it. She even took my hands and placed them on the computer monitor moving them around to help me visualize the actual layout.
Today, I am on the internet daily. This technology that was so new, at one point in my life, is old, mundane and ordinary. I mean I don’t even think about getting online. I just do it which shows me how much I take it for granted. Perhaps, you do too. Can you imagine going through the day with no internet? I know I can’t because of all the tasks I preform on it. Not being able to read the news, email, podcast or an audiobook is unconceivable. And that is just a small list of things. So, in honor of National Internet Day, Saturday, Oct. 29, I am going to feature 10 things I take for granted when using the internet. I am sure many of these items will resonate with you as well. My hope is this list will help all of us be more mindful and grateful for this invention.
1. Paying bills and managing finances
I use to do this task on paper. I remember a statement would come in the mail. I would read the bill, tear off the bottom and place in an envelope with a paper check. I paid my bills and managed my finances for years this way. Even after I went blind, I got sighted help until the internet made this chore easier and accessible. Today, I do all my financial business online. Not just paying basic household bills but managing online savings and investment accounts.
2. All kinds of shopping
Online shopping intensified during the pandemic because we all had to shelter in place. But I would dare to say many of us are still doing a lot online. Yep, I know I am. In the past I would do simple little things like purchasing household items and toiletries on Amazon. Or I would do a little clothes and shoe shopping. Now, I do almost all my shopping on the internet. Grocery, household, hair and beauty supplies, technology and electronics and more I purchase via the internet.
3. Entertainment like watching movies
I love watching movies on Netflix. I remember when they launched. Prior was the iconic Blockbuster’s where you had to go in person and rent a movie to play in a VCR. Do you remember those days? Netflix started with DVDs and then moved to streaming services. However, it is hard to stream a movie without a good internet connection. That WIFI signal has got to be strong and working.
4. online learning
Want to learn something new? You can take Online courses for almost anything. Courses online are the ticket to exploration. Learn basic home repairs, bake a cake , paint or garden. There is probably a course for that.
I lean toward career advancement so my courses have mostly been on ways to improve my writing or enhance my job searching. I take these courses easily from my home. They are convenient and sometimes free of charge. They are fairly accessible with my screen reader.
5. communication like zoom videoconferencing and web chats
The internet allows for multiple communication methods. We can use videoconferencing or web chats to not only connect with friends and family, but conduct business and medical appointments. If you can’t meet in person, set up a quick Zoom call. I have personally enjoyed the ease and convenience using videoconferencing for my book club meetings and community discussion groups.
6. Sending and receiving emails
Emails are as old as the internet itself. They are another way we communicate online. Emails are delivered extremely fast compared to traditional correspondence. Remember writing and mailing letters? We call it snail mail because of its slowness. Emails are sent and received all day and all year round. They are sent and received from any computer, anywhere in the world with an internet connection .
7. Read news stories, papers, magazines and journals
Just about every print publication can now be read online. Think of your local, regional or national newspaper and more than likely there is an online version. Same goes for magazines and journals.
I use to read my news in print. For years, I would grab a paper or magazine and hold in my hands to read it. Although print publications are sadly declining I appreciate digital content because it is easier to read with my vision loss.
8. social media interaction
Want to engage wit friends, make a professional contact or create a TikTok video? It can all be done online. Social media has provided opportunities for us to connect electronically and share our lives, interest and even be entertained.
9. Job searching
Those of you who spend time surfing the web know full well advancements in computer technology have made it easier and better to search for employment online. As a job seeker, we no longer must go in person and fill out a paper application or physically fax a resume and cover letter. Today we can independently and on our own time go online to search for jobs.
With my screen reader, I can upload my resume and cover letter to a prospective employer’s website. Or I can create a username and password to log in to generate an online profile. Or I can fill out an electronic application and search for a job using an online recruiting job board. All these advancements are awesome because as a blind person I can apply for jobs from the convenience and comfort of my home.
10. research and find info
I am naturally curious and doing internet research answers most of my probing questions. I can do a quick Google search and look up and learn about most anything. Have a question? Just “Google it” as they say. You will find all kinds of info. But use caution and check multiple sources
I got my 10 ways but what about you? How do you take the internet for granted? How has using the internet improved your life?