By Lara Moukaddem
I was born in the nineties in Tripoli, Lebanon. Not the most tech-savvy place on earth. I still remember the first time my dad brought home a computer. I was so excited and over joyed. All my friends at school already had one. I must have been around eleven years old at that time. My nine years old sister and I would never stop arguing about who could play on it longer. And yes there were some tears shed every now and then.
But the excitement soon faded away because there was no Internet on the computer. It was cool to paint on the computer, to play the “snake game” and dress up Barbie and put her make up in a fashionable style but after a while, let’s admit it, the computer simply became too boring and the arguing with my sister became less of an issue.
A very long time passed before my parents could afford an Internet subscription. I would envy my friends at school for having access to that other world. I was fascinated by the chats they had with strangers over the Internet while I was home simply drawing sketches, listening to music or watching TV.
I would have to mention by now that for a middle class early teenage girl in my hometown, after school activities often consisted of watching TV, listening to music, probably reading, or daydreaming in your room. This was my best alternative for being “online”.
But hey, I have no regrets.
Today I am amazed by the power of the Internet. Coming to study in France meant I could now have cheap and most importantly fast Internet access.
You need to bear in mind that Lebanon has a rather very poor Internet quality.
With my fairly fast Internet access in France, I felt like I was a sort of super human with a great power. Now I could watch Oprah Winfrey episodes as much as I wanted. I could finally listen to music on YouTube without having to be interrupted every twenty seconds because the video was yet downloading (at the time I was not even aware of music services such as Spotify). I felt like it was an open book giving access to the world and to endless knowledge.
During my first years in France, I spent (for various personal reasons) a lot of time browsing the Internet, which I had never done in Lebanon before. This is for example how I ended up stumbling upon the famous TED Talks and the valuable messages each of the talks carry.
My fascination for technology is quite big. Don’t get me wrong, I am not quite at ease with “manipulating” technology, sometimes it takes me months before I get to understand and discover the full functionalities of my new phone. And still today after having my laptop for more than a couple of years I still struggle with most of its features. So let’s just put it this way, when it comes to new technologies, I am not the girl who can help. I am rather the girl running all over the place looking for help!
But despite that, I am fascinated by the way technology is changing the way we live. Every time I use my maps application I feel like I am an augmented woman. I can go anywhere I want just with a click. Along with my application that helps me navigate through all the Parisian metro lines I feel I am unstoppable. I am really grateful for that. Only two years ago I had an old smartphone on which I could not download any app and so I often felt I was missing out on something.
What I like about my new smartphone is that it has multiple and endless uses all concentrated in one small machine. I can read my e-mails, check my Facebook account, use it to get to know about social events around me, reach out to friends I haven’t seen in a while. I can download podcasts and listen to them during my daily commute. I can locate a restaurant of my choice if I am in a new neighborhood or town. I can buy my train tickets online. And the list goes on and on.
I really feel like the Internet has given me the opportunity to have a better quality of life. As our lives get faster and more hectic it is good to know you can rely on your digital friend for some help. It is a relentless source of information and a definite eye opener.
It goes without saying that I try to be careful when reading information online, when speaking with strangers on social media. I am also vey careful when posting messages about my personal life. I try not to share too much information on myself or at least when I do; I try to make sure that the content won’t be publically available.
Everything in life is about finding the right balance. Our current relation to the Internet is often discredited especially when it comes to fake news, the social media, or even “spending too much time on our phones”. It is up to each of us to take our own responsibilities, to set the boundaries and to disconnect from time to time. When a disruptive innovation knocks on our doors we sometimes feel skeptic and threatened. In my opinion that is how evolution starts.
Pictures taken from The ChannelPro Network
About the author
Lara is a 25 year-old Lebanese who has been living in Lille for the past 7 years. She studied pharmacy and is now specializing in pharmaceutical law.