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Denise Calnan: I'm sharing my 25th birthday with the internet


I’m sharing my 25th birthday today with something else that’s celebrating 25 years on earth; something that has become such an inherent part of life for people in the developed world that to remove it from our daily lives without warning could cause chaos.

The internet.

Yes, the worldwide web is celebrating its 25th birthday today.

Although a global system connecting computer networks had been up and running already in 1989, it was that year that it was all enabled to be browsed by a worldwide audience.

“So, you have never known life without the internet?” a colleague asked today.

Technically, yes. But, like most Irish families, we didn’t get affordable and easy-to-use internet in the home until the noughties, when both the internet and myself were fifteen years old.

My fears of ‘growing old’, now that I can’t fit my age in candles on a birthday cake, have been laughed off by older friends and family alike.

Of course, standing back and looking at 25 years, I realise that it really is nothing at all.

For a lot of people, 25 years goes by in a blink. And that’s why the fact that the internet is only 25 years old today is so astonishing.

It has only been a mere decade since I would sit at the family computer and stare in frustration at the snail-paced, blinking dial-up connection struggle to complete its dashed line illustration on the screen.

Hands were planted firmly on the desk, for fear my frustration would result in me stamping on the return button and therefore restarting the whole painful process.

The glorified ‘Google’ homepage would appear and I’d type ‘MSN chat’ into the browser only to receive a shout from downstairs that my twenty minutes were up and they needed the phone line back.

Now, just ten years later, the internet is part of my everyday life. I read the news in the morning online, I use a radio app through my iPad over breakfast, I check my bus arrival time on a phone app before I leave the house.

I communicate with friends and family though Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, iMessages and Instagram during a bus journey, I sit at a computer in work and rely on the internet from the word ‘go’.

I plan cinema outings, restaurant bookings, concert events, my social life through the internet.

I go home in the evening to watch Netflix, Skype friends, listen to online radio or track my fitness on an app.

In just ten years, the internet has gone from the odd twenty-minute treat on a slow dial-up connection to being part of my everyday life, our everyday lives.

Could I live without it? I would love to think I could. It would definitely be an interesting challenge. But, no, I probably couldn’t.

In just 25 years, the internet has become something the developed world relies on.

What an amazing evolution in such a short stretch of time.

And it definitely beats saying I share my birthday with some A-list celebrity...

Online Editors