A recent This American Life
is all about that awkward period known as middle school. Near the beginning of the show, they state that middle-school-aged kids have more neuron development than at any other time after infancy. That period of our lives is thus, in large part, us becoming the us
we will be in life.
Given that, I think my priorities worked out pretty well. Unsurprisingly, I was a nerdy middle schooler. While some of my classmates were learning how to flirt and switching their dating status every other passing period, I was learning how to use Unix and spending Friday afternoons at Computer Club (which is still happening
, even though Scott Dixon retired). I also managed to get elected vice president of student council (probably because I was the only boy running) and competed twice in the state geography bee ('cause I'm a map nerd
I didn't have anything resembling a date or a girlfriend until I was a senior in high school (summer 1997), but by the end of middle school (June 1994), I'd helped organize an international email pen-pal program via elm
, found ASCII kanji instructions via gopher
, had multi-way interactive discussions on ytalk
before the term "instant message" had been coined, read erotic fiction on Usenet with trn
, been confused by vi
, and used two web browsers in an age when the computer teacher could still cut out and post every local newspaper article about the Internet. ("Whoa, check out this NCSA Mosaic thing! Unlike lynx
, you can see pictures!")
I think it worked out pretty well. I got to put off awkward romantic fumbling until I'd learned what sort of person I'm attracted to. I got to use the Internet when it was still a text adventure. And while I helped the Unix-understanding neurons win the battle against the girl-flirting neurons, today my girlfriend gets excited by the fact that I work at Google. Oh, and in third grade when I gave up on cursive and penmanship and started typing all my school assignments? I totally have no regrets.