Sherri Winans
Whatcom Community College
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Miranda Myers Barker
English 201
Essay 4
November 2002

Thinking With Our Menubars

Double-u, double-u, double-u dot everything. Personally, I avoid the Internet whenever possible. It’s kinda like feminine creme: I’d rather not think about it, but boy am I glad it’s there when I need it. No but seriously. The Internet is practically unavoidable now. Every product has a website. Every company. Every TV show. Even Mr. Average Joe has his own website with pictures of his vacation to Mexico and a little paragraph that explains how much he likes skiing and loves his dogs. How sweet. It seems like everyone’s thinking with their menubars these days.

You won’t see me on Mr. Average Joe’s website. Or a TV show’s. And certainly not on a company’s site. All the beeping and clicking and waiting and waiting. Alright, maybe I have the MTV generation’s patience. But I also have their fast paced life, which does make the Internet so much more convenient than driving all the way to a library. (And anyway, you know that if a person actually wrote an entire book, then they must have entirely too much time on their hands and that just makes me angry.) And what about new technological and medical information that changes every second? A book printed this year is already as out of date as the computer we just bought ten minutes ago.

What was life like before the Internet? I don’t really remember. I was a kid. I know that if we didn’t have all the technology of the computer programs and the Internet, I certainly wouldn’t have been a graphic designer. Designers used to physically cut out pictures and paste letters onto boards. And if they messed up? They had to start all the way over. I can’t even imagine. I get to point, click, drag, delete. And if I need a certain picture, I can log on to the Internet and go to a site with massive pictures and pick out the one that I want. There is no mailing involved. Point, click, and presto. (Waiting for the pages to load is bearable when it’s something I’m excited about.) I can supposedly design websites too. (I’ve only done a couple for school.) But I guess that means I should be more gung-ho about the Internet. Okay: whoo-hoo, the Internet. And now my English 201 teacher wants us to write a paper about the Internet? I better try that again: whoo-hoo the Internet. No luck. How can I possibly write any kind of decent paper about a little electronic library? Blah, blah, blah, I use it for research. Blah, blah, blah, my teacher makes us email. Blah, blah, blah, I’m a web designer. And in conclusion: blah.

So I pretty much had no idea what I could write about for five pages concerning "the web." Well, you know those teachers. They do turn out to be useful every once in a while. Sherri’s the English teacher. In the conference after my second essay, she suggested I submit it to a website: Try to get published on the Internet? What a concept. Alright, that was a bit exciting. What I know of the Internet is this: you type in a word and pages and pages of list after list of choices just pop up. So by that rationale, I would type in "publish" and pages and pages of list after list of opportunity would just pop up. Hmmm? I wonder if Cosmo will pop up? Let’s find out.

Double-click: America Online version 5.0. Select screen name: click. Enter password: *******. Sign on. And new screen. Step 1: Initializing modem . . . Step 2: Dialing . . . And dial tone and dialing and brrrr urrrr ur n’beep n’beep n’urrrr n’static n’errrr ding ding. "Welcome." "You’ve got mail." (I just figured out that you can turn down the sound on your computer and your don’t have to hear any of the urrrr beep. You probably already knew that. But when I turn off the sound, I get too anxious and scared when the urrrr beep part is supposed to be happening and convince myself that it won’t work if I’m not listening to it, so I have to turn the sound back on in the middle of dialup and listen to the stupid urrrr beeps.)

Double-u, double-u, double-u dot google dot com. I’ll try: publish AND writing . . . [Come on page after pager of list after list] . . . PUBLISH/Publish your book here. [No, probably not.] Kidpub Children’s Publishing. [No.] publish your writing, poetry, stories and books. [Okay, maybe.] Click. Terrible. First of all, the site is so cluttered, I can’t even tell what I’m looking at. The font is so small, I can hardly read it. And I don’t see any SUBMIT button. It’s gotta be easier than this. Let’s try something else. I’d like writing for a magazine. Like Cosmo or Playboy. You know, something fun. I’ll try: magazine . . . [No] . . . submit AND magazine . . . [No.] . . . submit AND magazine AND articles . . . [Come on Cosmo!] . . . EcoIQ Magazine: now accepting submissions. (If I would have used my giant "IQ," maybe I wouldn’t have wasted ten minutes trying to figure out how to submit an article to a magazine about Ecology for smart people.) [Next.] . . . Sprinkler Age. (Upon entering, you will see that this is the "official publication of the American Fire Sprinkler Association." Great. So I suppose that means that the magazine called Haunt World is really about ghosts. Let’s just try: Cosmopolitan Magazine . . . And there it is. And click. And to submit an article or story idea to our magazine, you can email the editor whose name can be found in the magazine’s subhead. Thank you and I’ll remember that for later. Right now I better just stick with the story I’ve already written and rewrite it for somewhere on the web. Okay, lets try: submit AND writing . . . [Good thinking.] . . . Alright, I’ll try it. Submit articles. Alright. Blah, blah, blah. Submit to editor via email. Blah, blah, blah. If you don’t hear from us in three weeks, (throw yourself in a lake). I mean blah, blah, blah. "If you wish to contribute, please spend some time familiarizing yourself with Salon's various sites and features. And please tell us a little about yourself -- your experience and background as a writer and qualifications for writing a particular story." Okay, I’m running short on time, so let’s familiarize. There’s a SEX button. Then a SEXUAL REVOLUTION button! Nice. I could write for these people.

Okay, there’s no length requirement or content requirement, so I guess it’s time to rewrite my paper. Two and a half days later, I was exhausted and "A Nice Soft Blanket" had become "Chatty Kathys and Belching Bills." It was fairly good. I think. I haven’t dared look at it since I sent it to the editor of I know I’ll find mistakes and think it’s terrible, so for now I’ll just think that it’s fairly good and not actually read it again. And then I had to write the little kiss up piece at the beginning. They want to know my "qualifications for writing a particular story." Uh. Okay. This was my best blah, blah, blah, BS and I’m worthy. "I wrote this piece to show an aspect of communication problems between boys and girls. I have been taking psychology classes and thinking about some of the differences in the sexes because I live with my boyfriend. In my piece, I reflect on my interactions with my girlfriends and the interactions I observe from the teenage boys that hang out my house. I feel like I understand how same sex peer groups influence our communication styles as we grow up. But mostly I wanted the piece to be funny. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks so much. Miranda."

I don’t even care that I haven’t heard back from them. I only checked my email because I had other stuff to check. I wasn’t even checking for that. It’s been three working days, but I’m not counting or anything. I only know it’s been three days because I was trying to remember details to write about in this paper. So I don’t even expect them to write back. The paper wasn’t even good. I don’t care about being a looser. I’ll just do better next time. Yah, next time when I write to Cosmo and they think my article is so great that they want me to write more and more and then they want to give me a job and I’ll be in every issue and then they’ll put me on the cover, like biting a pencil or something sexy like that and I’ll be rich. See, I don’t even care about What? I don’t.

But seriously now. I was amazed. I’d never even thought about opportunities like this existing on the web. I check the employment office website and the newspaper’s website for jobs, but I can’t believe that it never occurred to me to search for something I actually wanted to do. I must have forgotten that we’re living in a computerized revolution where you don’t have to live in the same state as your boss, if you choose the right career and have access to the Internet. I found site after site of: "We’ll publish your book!" And: "Submit your writing here." I even found out how to submit to Cosmo. Email it to the editor. That’s what they all say. How easy is that? And when I typed in: writing AND contest? Of course, page after page of list after list: "Winner receives $1000!" Oh my gosh!

Point and click and the world really is at our fingertips. Type in the right phrase and the list doesn’t stop. I suggest for article writers: writing AND submit. Or for book writers: writing AND publish. But for all writers: EXPLORE THIS OPPORTUNITY! And what about everything else besides writing? How many other opportunities are waiting for everyone on the World Wide Web? Got a dream? Or just a thought? Type it in. You never know what you’ll find. But it could be in the form of page after page of list after list of opportunity after opportunity. Don’t worry, sometimes we all need a little help from our menubars.


Copyright 2002
Miranda Myers Barker


Funded through the U.S. Dept. of Education, Title III Grant PO31A980143
Sherri Winans, Whatcom Community College, Bellingham, WA