Feeling Down? Cheer Up, and Pass the Gravy

As you sit down to turkey this afternoon, you may not feel there’s much to be thankful for.

Last year, you probably thought you were rich, your days filled with interesting work. You were wondering what charities or other good works your fortune might endow and how to handle the whole idea of true wealth.

Today, those stock options you depended on are probably worthless. You may even be out of a job. Once I had a web site, made it run, made it race against time. Once I had a web site, now it’s done, brother can you spare a dime?

Well, I’m here to tell you, it isn’t that bad.

For one thing, you have had a hand in building a great new medium. Look at how far we’ve come in just five years. Despite today’s slowdown, agencies are billing billions of dollars for Internet advertising, and many clients are paying the bills gladly. Total Internet commerce this year may be measured in the trillions worldwide.

We’ve created not just one medium, but several, all riding on the back of a shared worldwide protocol. The web, email, chat, and instant messaging are all different services. Each has its own nuances, calling for its own specialties.

We are constantly creating new types of interesting work. Yesterday’s HTML wiz is now learning XML. Yesterday’s expert on routers is now learning optical networking. Yesterday’s authority on WAP is now learning the intricacies of fixed broadband wireless. It goes on and on.

We have built new types of companies and new types of lifestyles that never existed before. We have built new kinds of business relationships and new kinds of markets that are brand new.

And you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Instead of turning to the TV after the game, you might do what I plan on doing — use the online world to find a new obsession. In my case, it’s a soccer team called Sheffield Wednesday.

I knew nothing about soccer until my kids started playing it and only became interested in this foreign team due to the Internet. I chose my team because I liked the name and its mascot, the owl, a mascot shared by my alma mater, Rice University.

Since I joined them, of course, the Sheffield Owls have gone completely in the dumper. I learned that British teams that fail to win in their leagues can be relegated to lower leagues, and last season, Wednesday got relegated. It’s a whole new game with a whole new language, one I can keep to myself because I doubt there’s another Wednesday fan within 500 miles of where I live.

The point is that no matter how strange, esoteric, or foreign the obsession you choose might be, you can immerse yourself in it thanks to the great new online world you have had a hand in creating. It’s only going to get better. So cheer up, and pass the gravy.

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