Reaching our online prime

By By Clayton Norlen and By Clayton Norlen

By Clayton Norlen

Thanks to Al Gore and his hand in the creation of the tool that has single handedly changed our country, we now can live productive, if not meaningful, lives and never leave the house.

As I’m sure you all know, this tool is the Internet. Americans across the board are opting to spend their free time on the Web instead of barbecuing, watching television or, God forbid, enjoying the outdoors.

The Internet has gone beyond its initial use of easier communication and has now developed into a lifestyle. We all know at least one person who has become completely engrossed with his or her online community, friends who have started speaking in acronyms and using jargon that would confuse a Dungeons and Dragons nerd.

I have watched socially functioning friends who started out playing World of Warcraft recreationally-only once in a blue moon-but now have become one with their level-60 warrior and forsaken anyone not of the elfin race.

Now my friends socialize with people across the globe, from Australia to Canada, playing as warlocks and priests, completing quests and finding magical items. They have advanced past geographic boundaries and joined a global community.

Or how about the friend who is so enamored with his or her Myspace.com page, taking regular breaks to check if anyone has posted a new comment? These are the people who hear a song they like and tell you, “This song is so cool! I can’t wait to upload it onto Myspace-it just defines me.”

Even if you haven’t developed a taste for social networking, you probably haven’t avoided a dependency for the Internet. Just think how many times you’ve checked your e-mail today? I’m sure it’s more often than you’ve checked your physical mailbox in the past week.

How about the convenience of online shopping? No more long lines full of obnoxious kids during the holidays. Now, from the comfort of your own home, you can click your mouse, enter a credit card number and have anything you desire on your doorstep tomorrow morning with overnight shipping.

After I finish this column, I’ll be getting on WebCT to get the additional readings required for a class (because the $70 textbook I bought doesn’t have all the information). In the past, I’ve had to submit homework and quizzes online, and I’m sure that will only become more and more common.

Can’t find love through the traditional avenues? Welcome to the world of online dating, where personality tests can connect you with someone with whom you are truly compatible. No more late nights at the bar looking for your star-crossed lover through a drunken haze-now love is only a profile search away.

Love it or hate it, the Internet in all its wonder is here to stay. As the technology advances and becomes more user-friendly, it will only be a matter of time before I never have to leave my room and can, for all intents and purposes, be labeled an active and involved participant in society.

Yeah, that doesn’t freak me out at all.