Why The Internet Is Still Awesome

“They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes.”Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens, 2006.

“The Internet has its charms and its dangers.” – Peter the Librarian, to incoming freshman at Washington University, 2001.

“During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.” – Senator Al Gore, 1999.

De de dee da do do do do do…

Since it first graced me with its presence in my home in 1996, I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the Internet. In the beginning, I instantly fell in love with the dancing hamsters and the ability to find anything my heart desired on Netscape. Soon, I discovered that my crush was accessible 24/7 thanks to a little something called AOL Instant Messenger. My friends were also accessible over AIM and I’d spend many nights sneaking into the computer room to chat, waiting for that magical hum from the modem signaling to me that I was connected me to the internet/my dreams. Sometimes I’d throw a towel over the computer, hoping it would mute out that terribly loud sound and not wake up my parents.

Not only did the Internet connect me with my friends, but it allowed me to listen to all sorts of music I wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Thanks to Napster and later Kazaa, I could listen to the greatest hits of the ’80s, ’90s, and today without having to spend all of my allowance on CDs. All that money I saved really came in handy in college when I had to pay for things like laundry and Ramen noodles.

Remember when it was “the” Facebook?

Toward the end of college, a little social network called Facebook arrived to the scene. It allowed you to connect with other kids on campus and see what they were up to. At first, it sort of felt like signing someone’s yearbook. You’d leave a little note on someone’s graffiti wall and go about your daily business. Soon, we were able to be friends with people on other campuses. Then, eventually the whole world was invited to join along with everything that has ever been invented. Ever. You could suddenly post pictures, tag people in statuses, check in with people. Lots of information available about everyone including your old boyfriend, his mother, your best friend from middle school.

Fun at first! A great way to keep in touch with friends old and new! But funny things started to pop up. Judy had a party last week? All my friends were there? I wonder why I wasn’t invited. Do they not like me? Staci is backstage at the Justin Timberlake concert again?! She really leads a more exciting life than I do. I need to get out more. Why won’t anyone like my status? Am I not funny? Or interesting?

My boyfriend, according to Buzzfeed.

Thanks Facebook, not only have you exacerbated my fear of missing out, you’ve turned me into a cyberstalker and you’ve wasted ALL of my time. What’s worse is that Buzzfeed has joined the party to take up even more of my time. As if Facebook hasn’t wasted enough time, now there’s an array of easy-to-read (read: mostly pictures), hilarious posts about everything under the sun from news stories to why going to the mall as a child is different from going as an adult. If that wasn’t enough, they now have quizzes. So even though I didn’t go grocery shopping as I’d planned, I do know which writer from history I should have a romantic fling with (Anton Chekov) and which U.S. President I most resemble (Barack Obama). Equally as important, I’d say.

Aside from wasting my time, how about the fact that the Internet has dumbed down our society as a whole?! The Internet is rewiring our brains! Nobody even reads anymore. In fact, if you’ve reached this far in my post, I commend you! Hashtag thank you. Hashtag see what I mean about the dumbing down of our society. Hashtag I hate people who talk in hashtags. Hashtag sorry not sorry.

Some days, I am so disgusted by how much the Internet has taken over my life. As I write this post, I’m staring at my iPad while my iPhone sits next to me. You know, in case someone likes my photo on Instagram, I can instantly respond and return the favor by liking one of their photos.

Just last month, when I hit the peak of my frustration with the Internet and thought about unplugging forever, I was kindly reminded why the Internet is still awesome. One day, upon arriving home from work, I received a small package in the mail. I wasn’t expecting anything so I didn’t have a clue as to what might be in the box.

The mug and the letter.
The mug and the letter.

After opening the box and sifting through the hundreds of styrofoam peanut-looking things, I found a commemorative royal wedding mug and a letter that was typed on a typewriter. It was from a Twitter friend, whom I’ve never met, but who knows how much I loved the royal wedding and everything Will and Kate-related. His mother, who lives in Minnesota, got the mug as a commemorative gift from People Magazine and was going to throw the mug away. Not wanting a good mug to go to waste, my Twitter pal thought of the only person he knew who might want such a thing–me.

The mug was accompanied by a letter, another one of my favorite things. There’s nothing better than receiving a letter in the mail. The thoughtful gift was an added bonus. This encounter happened because of our friendship over Twitter and it reminded me why the Internet is still awesome. It connects people.

Isn’t that why we go online in the first place?

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Yes to the Dress

“Weddings are so weird. This veil costs more than my couch.” – Liz Lemon, “SeinfeldVision,” 30 Rock.

In the very first episode of TLC’s hit wedding show Say Yes to the Dress, bride-to-be Kim describes trying on the dress she chose to be her wedding dress:

“I found the dress. It’s gorgeous, I don’t know what to say, I just had a great feeling in the dress. I think I had the moment where everyone says, you’ll know, you’ll know. That definitely happened for me. I felt like myself in my dress. I felt beautiful. I love it.”

I’ve heard that before–you’ll just know when you find the perfect dress. You’ll have that feeling. Well, the other day I had that feeling when I came across this dress on my Instagram feed:

dream wedding dress

I had that feeling you get when see an article of clothing and you know you just have to have it. This is the one. I will have it, somehow, in some form.

side chignonLooking at the picture, I could already imagine how beautiful I’d feel in the dress and at the same time how natural it would look on me. As if every morning I woke up destined to be covered head-to-toe in a strapless lace gown topped with a silver belt at the natural waist line, hair swept to one side in a messy chignon.

Something told me to save this information for later, so I took a few screenshots and did a little more research. The dress, by Romona Keveza Collection from the Fall 2013 bridal collection, is listed on Kleinfeld’s website as a strapless, sheath gown, made of lace with a silver belt around the natural waistline. Of course the price was no where to be found, but I can only imagine how far out of my price range it was.

I texted the screenshots to a few friends and one of my friends, who designs clothing, even told me she could make a pattern for me. Perfect. Wedding dress, check.

Wait. WHAT?!

Picking out a wedding dress before even remotely close to planning a wedding?Taking screenshots of said wedding dress and sharing them with friends? Bookmarking the designer’s website so I’d have this information for later?

Have I secretly been a single bridezilla all this time and I just didn’t know it until now? You know, one of those single women who has everything but the groom planned for her wedding?

Royal Wedding DressLooking back, maybe there were a few signs. I did watch the Royal Wedding about 20 times because I’m obsessed with Kate Middleton’s wedding dress.  I guess that’s a pretty clear sign. Can you really blame me? The Chantilly lace! The dressmakers washed their hands every 30 minutes to avoid dirtying the thing! Kate Middleton brought back long sleeves with that dress!

Okay, so maybe I love a nice fancy dress, but beyond that, I’m not one of those people who’s married to the idea of planning a wedding before they even have a fiance. I don’t even like planning detailed events like weddings. I’m not really the type of person who sends out invitations that match the chair coverings and the floral arrangements.  I certainly won’t be starting my own I’m-Single-But-Planning-My-Wedding Pintrest board any time soon.

Still, there was something about the wedding dress I saw online that I couldn’t let go of. What is it about wedding dresses that has me so captivated? It’s just an overpriced dress you can only get away with wearing on one day!

Or is it?!

Liz Lemon dressIn 30 Rock episode “SeinfeldVision,” newly-single Liz Lemon becomes enamored with a wedding dress when she accompanies her co-worker (whom she agreed to be a bridesmaid for) to the bridal store. The co-worker asks Liz to try on a dress for her as it looks too big. Liz loves the wedding dress and even gets jealous when she sees someone else trying it on a week later. The saleswoman, trying hard to make the sale, reminds Liz that “a lot of women buy their perfect dress when they see it and just trust the fact that their husband will come.”

Liz buys the wedding dress and takes it to work with her. Thinking no one will see her, she tries on the dress. Of course, everyone catches her in the dress and makes her the butt of the jokes, so Liz defends her actions by saying:

“I just bought a dress because I don’t need society’s permission to buy a white dress, I mean who says this is a wedding dress. Anyway in Korea, they wear white to funerals.”

To prove her point, she spends the rest of the work day in her wedding dress, giving a tour of the office to Jerry Seinfeld and eating greasy food.

Phoebe MonicaSimilarly, on Friends, in “The One With All the Wedding Dresses,” Monica, Phoebe, and Rachel find that going about your daily business in a wedding dress is much more fun than not wearing a wedding dress. After picking up her brother’s fiancee’s wedding dress from the drycleaner, Monica decides she just has to try it on. She finds she loves the feeling of being in a wedding dress and continues to do the dishes in the dress. Soon, a pregnant Phoebe comes knocking at the door also wearing a wedding dress she’d rented for the day. A gigglefest ensues between the two friends as they hang out in their wedding dresses and even partake in a bouquet toss.

Friends dressesLater on in the episode, a newly dumped Rachel appears feeling depressed over the end of her relationship. Phoebe and Monica look at one another and realize they know the one thing that will make Rachel feel better. Cut to the three women on the couch, all dressed in wedding dresses, sipping beer, and eating popcorn. All of Rachel’s boyfriend problems, solved!

As Liz Lemon and Monica, Phoebe, and Rachel all experienced, there is something about wearing formal wear that makes us all feel a little bit better. Wearing a beautifully designed and flattering dress gives an extra boost of confidence, even if you’re only wearing it in the comfort of your own home.

All-in-all, my love of wedding dresses does not make me a “single bridezilla.” I’m not going to end up like Miss Havisham, sitting around in the cobwebs of my home wearing a wedding dress until the end of days. It just means I truly appreciate and desire a well-constructed piece of formal wear.

Don’t Mess With the Duchess of Cambridge

Ever since the debut of her Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen wedding dress, Kate Middleton has made fashion headlines. Her fashion choices crash designers’ websites. Most of the clothes she owns are on back order for years. As is the case with most mega-celebrities, the Duchess formerly known as Kate Middleton is now the subject of scrutiny for her fashion choices. God forbid we actually leave a well-dressed, friendly celebrity alone. Here’s what the Duchess of Cambridge has been criticized for in the fashion department:

1) Re-wearing her clothes. The Duchess made headlines when she appeared at her husband’s cousin’s wedding in a green dress that she had worn a few weeks ago while rubbing elbows with American celebs. In a recent interview on Jay Leno, Kelly Osbourne criticized Kate for re-wearing clothes, citing the fact that in Britain that is a huge fashion faux pas.

2) Her make-up choices. Designer Vivienne Westwood has a problem with Kate’s eye makeup. Westwood recently criticized the Duchess for the sharp lines around her eyes created by her eyeliner. Shortly after the royal wedding (for which Kate did her own make-up), critics thought Kate applied too much blush and eyeliner.

3) Dressing too conservatively. Vivienne Westwood also thinks that Kate’s style choices are boring. She said Kate’s image is “ordinary woman.” A post a few weeks ago on The Frisky further illustrated this point by saying that Kate should not be considered a fashion icon and her clothes are way too conservative. Uninspired. It looks like she buys her clothes from Talbots.


4) Wearing pantyhose. The Duchess of Cambridge wears pantyhose all the time and it was especially apparent during her North American visit. Wearing pantyhose in summer (or ever) hasn’t really been a fashion trend since the 1980s and Kate’s pantyhose habit has some fashionistas considering her old-fashioned.

These criticisms of Kate’s fashion are simply ridiculous. How can people be so critical of someone so chic, so stylish, so poised, and so demure? Here’s what I think about these crass judgments:

1) Re-wearing your old clothes? Really? That’s a problem? Because you know, that’s what the rest of us have been doing for centuries. With a tight economy and constantly changing styles, we should all be re-wearing our clothes. Just because you’re a wealthy celebrity and can afford to always buy new clothes doesn’t mean that you should. Thanks, Kate, for making me feel better about the fact that I’m re-wearing a Banana Republic jersey dress that I bought four years ago.

2) Kate is a duchess who owns half of Prince William’s worldly goods and she still does her own makeup. I applaud her for that. She doesn’t need ladies in waiting, she has her own two hands and a vanity. Not only does she do her own make-up, but her work is viewed by billions of people. Kudos, Kate. Kudos.

3) What’s wrong with dressing conservatively? Less is more. I’m so sick of people who barely put on clothes and then run around as if they invented style. Or what about those people who “dress different” to “make a statement”? I’m sorry, but leg warmers do not mittens make. What’s wrong with dressing like a distinguished woman? I salute your fashion choices, Kate. I would love to get my hands on that tan Reiss dress.

4) Only Kate Middleton has the fashion clout to rock sheer pantyhose. Before, I used to hate them, now I love them. Sheer pantyhose make your legs look shiny, covering up any dry or unshaved patches. Way to bring back an old trend, Kate. Well played.

To all those Kate Middleton critics out there, all I have to say is, don’t mess with the Duchess of Cambridge. She’s cool, she’s hot, she’s everything you’re not. You wish you could have her style and class. Or maybe just her husband.

Even Your First (Celebrity) Crush Grows Up and Gets Married One Day

Everyone that knew me well in my early high school days knew that Prince William was my first and most major celebrity crush. If you can remember back to how girls were at that age, you might remember that having a crush was serious stuff. Us adolescent girls were devoted to our crushes and we did not keep our devotions a secret. At our lunch table, my girlfriends and I gabbed about our latest crushes, both celebrity and non-celebrity, over peanut butter sandwiches and cookies. Prince William was the object of my affection and naturally I talked about my crush all of the time. Did you see Prince William on the cover of YM? I love him. I can’t wait to join the Royal Family one day.  I even talked about this crush to the school newspaper. For a symposium published around the time of the Homecoming dance, I was asked, “Who would you most like to take to the school dance and why?” I answered:

Forget about sounding self-centered and shallow, I wanted the world to know that I intended to become the next Princess of Wales. I had a serious crush here!

Then, of course, as my crush on Prince William grew, so did the collection of pictures of him plastered around my room. I devoted one closet door in my bedroom to a Prince William collage, which I adorned with magazine and newspaper cutouts and printed pictures from the Internet. (I had to stop printing color pictures from the Internet after I was reprimanded for using up too much ink in the family printer). Take a look:

The nice thing about having a well-known celebrity crush is that your friends start to pick up on the fact and then they give you pictures they’d saved from their teen magazines and newspapers. They might even buy you posters of your crush or copies of magazines featuring a story on your crush. My sister was kind enough to give me a Prince William poster as a Christmas present. Naturally, I hung the poster above my bed:

Along with verbal devotion and pictorial shrines, there was of course written devotion to the crush. I wrote unabashedly about my love for Prince William in my diary. I even scrawled Sonja + Prince William on the inside front cover. (Other names had to be crossed out for that.) See for yourself:

                     

Of course, crushes don’t last forever and eventually, even I outgrew my crush on Prince William. I moved on from the celebrity crush phase and scoped out the boys sitting next to me in my classes. Magazine cutouts were replaced by photographs on my bedroom wall. I let go of my desire to become the next Princess of Wales and focused instead on joining as many extracurriculars that my schedule would permit.

I never thought about Prince William again until last year, when Prince William and longtime girlfriend Kate Middleton, announced their engagement. I couldn’t help but think about myself as a fourteen year-old girl. My fourteen year-old self would have been devastated by this news. I probably would have ripped down my Prince William collage in a fit of anger. What do you mean MY crush is getting married?!  Thinking about that version of myself made me smile. There is something wonderful about having a teenage crush. The feelings of having a crush at fourteen can never be replicated. There is an innocence in believing that you can have strong feelings for someone you’ve never met and that simply having strong feelings is enough to give you a chance with a total stranger like Prince William. Once you’re older and realize how silly that idea is, there’s no way to return to that innocence.

Or is there? Enter Prince William’s wedding day. I woke up at 4:15 in the morning and watched Prince William’s wedding ceremony live. I put on a dress and a fancy hat and headed over to the local British pub for a viewing party. I wanted to watch the wedding as a nod to my fourteen year-old self and the faded collage that still covers one closet door in my childhood bedroom.  In that brief moment of watching the ceremony, I returned to that innocence of being a fourteen year-old girl with a crush. It was the perfect epilogue to a much earlier chapter in my life.

I raise my glass to you, Prince William!