I remember the first time I got my computer and was finally connected to the internet. It was my last semester of my final year at university. I spent two and a half years of my university life pounding out course essays, tutorials and seminar materials on a typewriter before I joined the rest of the progressive world on cyber-space.

I had my computer built according to my specifications – or rather what I was advised they should be as I was still getting ROM and RAM mixed up to the amusement of the IT guys who were building the computer for me. I wanted an excellent surround sound system for movies. Take note – The Lord of the Rings cannot be watched without the right system to hear the breath of every Orc, the clash of swords, the screams of the dying, the musicality of Elvish, the demoniac nuances of Black Speech and the heart lifting music scored by Howard Shore for Rivendell, Hobbiton and Dwarrowdelf. (You see how easy it is for me to get sidetracked?)

The first day my computer was brought to me, there were so many boxes. I had no idea that there were going to be so many pieces to assemble before it would look complete. A desk was varnished and ready. With bright eyes and a brighter smile I followed the tech guys inside. One would think that I was welcoming a new baby into the family. I suppose it was like that – in a way. I always relished the new and unfamiliar.

They made short work of setting up and all the while I stood there, arms folded, my eyes following their every move. Then there it was – my very own computer which I still had to pay for in instalments. But it was mine.

The keys on the keyboard were soft and made very little noise when I typed on the Mavis Beacon program. My family and I hovered around it and cooed like proud parents. The tips of our fingers would gently brush over the printer, the monitor, the speakers and the keyboard. I still had to get internet – that would be a worry for the next day.

I couldn’t sleep that night. The computer was still on and the bright display on the monitor glowed in that dark – a herald into this new universe. Mesmerised by the aquarium screen saver, I marvelled at how far my family and I had come. It was a small victory and we were far behind others, but it was our victory nevertheless.

Once I got the internet up and running, I sent my first email to the IT guys informing them that everything was right as rain and got a reply within an hour. I sent emails to myself and emails to my sisters and my mother even though we were all living in the same house. A new world opened up and my old world disappeared forever.

I’ve found that it is so much easier to say something to someone when you don’t have to look at them and say it. That’s what was happening. That room in which the computer sat became our world. It was a source of information easily accessible from all across the globe. I was more efficient in my studies and so were my sisters. It was the source of contention amongst us and a place of escape. It often brought us together and often tore us apart.

Over time, like everything else that was once new, the computer and the whole notion of being linked to a world outside of our own experience lost its lustre and became commonplace. However, I don’t think I can go for very long without going online. It’s almost like a necessity of life. I wonder how did I manage for twenty of my early cognitive years without it – back then when life was simpler? Could I go back? I don’t believe so. There isn’t enough room to turn around and go back as the world has become so much smaller. It’s either that – or I’ve changed too much.