I just spent the past half hour talking to Suhong, a 43-year-old woman living in Chengdu, China. She's lived there her whole life and wants to travel the world, and she's trying to learn English. She doesn't know much—and I can barely speak Chinese at all—but I was able to help her pronounce some of the lessons from LiveMocha.com, which is how this all started. There's a 12-hour difference between here and there, but she labeled herself a 'night people' early on in our conversation.
It's 2008. Even the idea of the Internet is barely 30 years old, and today I can log into a website and connect to random people 24 hours a day. I can be sitting comfortably in a chair at my desk, in my room, having a snack and relaxing in my PJ's, and at the same time be talking to anyone practically anywhere on Earth, without a phone and despite a distance of hundreds or thousands of miles. I can actually use the 'net to find people learning English—people who speak languages I'm trying to learn—and exchange 'knowledge' with them.
I think it's pretty easy to forget how mind-boggling the convenience of the Internet really is, considering how important of a role computers play in our lives. How often do we check our e-mail or text message on a daily basis? (Needless to say, I do that a lot, but that's because my iPhone makes it even easier than getting up and checking anything on a computer.) Our society is constantly wired to the WWW. Pun intended.
It's almost scary.