My first exposure to the internet was in the mid 90's. Back then, there were no big commercial search engines, and very few businesses had set up shop online. There was no such thing as 'Social Media'; at least not the way it's marketed to us these days. The internet was still dominated by academics and eccentrics, and the content reflected this demographic.
Something else that made the internet exciting and unique was true user generated content. I use the word 'true' to differentiate from the current definition of user generated content, which is usually a contrivance used to convince you, the viewer, to create content for a commercial entity. Yes, you're sharing your own creative energies, but the only reason you're being given the opportunity to do so is because it's helping drive views for the advertisers that share screen real-estate with your content.
If you wanted to have a presence on-line, you had to carve it out for yourself. You had to find somewhere to host your website, and you had to use a text editor to craft HTML into web pages for the world to view. Later on, sites like Geocities came on the scene, which helped the brave put their content online without having to pay hosting fees, but the premise remained the same -- it took effort to share something on the internet.
In the years since, this has all changed. There are very few people who create their own web sites anymore. I've worked with numerous very intelligent and technical people, but very few of them have any sort of web presence. The energies that used to go in to generating that type of content now serve the needs of a different group of people. Instead of time being spent creating an educational or creative web page that will persist for years and act as a constant resource to the curious, time is instead being spent posting what is for dinner, or what is on television.
Social media is turning our life stories into disconnected snippets. A vague status update here, and photo there. A short tweet sorely lacking context. It's like catching a few fleeting words of conversation as you pass someone on the street. Make a web site. Share your thoughts, experiences and ideas. Make something that makes a lasting impression. Take pictures and interweave them with words to tell a story. Share your knowledge and understanding. Make the internet human again.
Make the internet 'ours' again.