It’s only the internet, don’t be afraid to break it

My partner now has a WordPress blog. As he was playing around with the site, he was asking for my help, since I’ve been using WordPress for a little while now. I told him to just play around with it and not be be afraid of breaking it. After all, it’s only the internet. (I did help him though).

I think that the mindset of being unafraid to break it is something my generation has. Sure, we could break it with the right tools. I have friends who design websites, they can just as easily become hackers and really break something. But I don’t think anyone I know got good from books. Most of what we know about the internet and how to manipulate it is from trial and error.

Now that I’m thinking about it, most of what I know about computers I learned by just playing around with them. My elementary school had a computer lab, so we all went had classes in there. They taught us how to type and how to play Oregon Trail. I still don’t type quickly (I type a little over 60 words per minute when I’m copying something, but I obviously type slower than that when I’m composing). I learned to play video games by button-mashing first, and then figuring out what each button did. Sure, I wasn’t talented at first, but, though plenty of trial and error, I got better. I have the same mentality towards the internet in general. I don’t think I can break it, so each time I press a button or change something, I can see what changes. If I don’t like it, luckily I can try to fix it. If I can’t fix it, I push buttons until I like yet another change.

I’m a little warier of physical items though. I can change the settings on my computer or play around with the HTML of this posting, but I can usually fix that with another keystroke or click. I can’t fix physical items that easily.

I can knit, but if I try cabling and mess up, fixing a dropped or twisted stitch is hard. So I don’t try odd patterns.

I can do basic cooking, but that doesn’t mean I’m not afraid that I’ll burn food or set my stove on fire. Yes, I have dropped things onto the burners and they have flamed up. Fixing burnt food is considerably harder than changing a setting on a computer. Putting out a fire, even a small, contained one, is a very scary thing.

Some mistakes can’t be fixed.

All mistakes are learning opportunities.

Sometimes, you have to make a mistake in order to learn.

“Why do we fall sir? So we might learn to pick ourselves up.” ~Alfred (Batman Begins)

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