I remember the moment as if it happened yesterday. I was in my bedroom on a sunny, autumn weekday afternoon during my first semester of high school. I was 14, and I wasn't really sure of what I was doing. I fumbled around trying to figure out what I should do next. I was completely lost. I tried recalling the tips my dad had given me, but they wouldn't matter. It was still a completely new experience -- awkward and mind-blowingly awesome at the same time...
I had discovered the Internet, and my, oh my, was she mesmerizing.
In an effort to add some intellectuality to phys ed, the school administration decided we would be required to complete a writing assignment. We had to write a two-page report on one of the following subjects: the pros and cons of Astroturf or the prevention of ankle injuries*. I chose the latter. Once my dad got home from work, I told him he'd have to drive me to the library so I could do some research for a paper I had to write for gym class. Loathing the thought of having to play chauffeur, he said, "Just use the Internet."
"I don't know how to use that."
"Just open Internet Explorer, go to askjeeves.com and type in what you need."
I went to askjeeves.com, which is now ask.com, and was still a little confused. It seems funny in retrospect, but I wasn't completely confident in what I had to do. Ask Jeeves was just a simple search engine, but I had never used one. I assumed I had to ask a question because the site was named "Ask Jeeves," but I wasn't sure if there was a certain way I was required to pose the question. Did I have to include a question mark? Isn't it already implied that what I'm typing will be a question? Would including a question mark skew my results? I actually tried asking my dad how I was supposed to pose the question. He looked at me incredulously and said, "Figure it out. You'll get what you need."
I don't remember exactly what I typed, but it was something along the lines of "How do you prevent ankle injuries?" I can't recall whether I included a question mark, but I do remember my amazement at the multitude of results I received, including a fair share from Geocities. With just a few keystrokes, I could access a plethora of information on any subject. Even what to do for my first time.
*Step 1 in avoiding ankle injuries: don't get hit by NYC cabs. This weekend marked the 1-year anniversary of the infamous hit-and-run incident. I haven't been in a collision since that fateful night, so I'm deeming it a good year.