Welcome To the Jungle

Kicking on-line for the first time

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: January 1, 2004

Welcome To the Jungle

It is a few days after Christmas. You have one day to decompress, a few hours to realize that someone bought you a computer, another day to call a computer nerd to help hook it up, and your throat is dry from talking to technical support.

Some of you have just logged on for the first time and Pandora?s Box is now wide open.

On behalf of some of the more effusive folks on-line, I would like to welcome those new to cyberspace and ask, what took you so long? Disco is over, Elvis has left the building and print is dead.

The first thing you will realize is that most people have email. This means you can send brief letters, cute quotes, jokes and inane gibberish to people you know without having to actually talk to them. Email is an intimate way you can enter into lifelong friendships with people you will probably never meet in person.

As more and more people get your email address you establish a new circle of friends. In many cases you can become quite close to members of your extended family located throughout the country or throughout the world. Email forces you to tell the gist of your boring stories because everyone knows how easy it is to delete something whack.

A word a caution: Email can be more addicting than cigarettes.

Whatever your interests are you can find someone on-line more fanatical than you. There are websites for almost everything imaginable and if you want to find webpage on a specific subject just go to http://www.Goggle.com and they can give you a list from over one billion pages. It is said that if all of the Goggle pages were stacked one on top of another, it would be 125 miles high.

Speaking of high, avoid Tommy Chong's page. He went into the slammer for selling bongs on-line.

On EBay you can buy almost anything and it will be sent to your home in a few short days. Be careful when you?re bidding on-line, because if your ego gets in the way you may win a small town, or an un-official queer makeover.

For every interest there is a message board community. A message board community usually has one thing in common and aficionados of that thing post messages and comments. There are message boards for animals, cars, boats, cigars; scrap-booking, book-making and the two that I frequent talk about various bands.

Electronia affords one certain anonymity; no one really knows who you are or what you look like unless you post your picture on-line. If you do, you can be certain that someone somewhere around the country or around the world will have a good laugh at your face.

Don?t be discouraged they don?t know you and probably never will. If you do somehow meet, you can always deny that it is you, citing server glitches. On the other hand, if you are walking down the street and complete strangers point at you and crack up, then you have spent way too much time on-line and there is a real chance that you look like a dork.

Do not be inhibited regarding your command of the language or spelling capability. Most programs have Spell Check that will correct spelling. Always use that, keep an eye on form. Sometimes that slips by. Real friends will over look diction and grammatical errors. I?ve been chided for making up my own words, sometimes in Spanglish.

There will however be critics, those who sat in the front row during English class, those who had the audacity to attend community college classes sober, who will troll your words for grammatical. And based and the first amendment, your opinions cannot be downgraded by the use of colloquial language.

Make your unique voice count.

Use the web to feed a thirst for knowledge. There is a plethora of up-to-the-second information available at your fingertips. Knowledge in this society is power. Empower yourself by study. Think outside of the box. Use the web to nurture your intellectualism, not hedonism.

The smartest people in society are on-line, but then again, I like to say that every year.

About Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos is a national columnist and a screenwriter.

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