What Has the Internet Ever Done for Me!

Dec 8, 2023 | 2024 Winter - Bi+ World Wide Web

By Riley Quinn

Here’s how the conversation in my head goes:

Me: Oh God, the internet, as a subject!

I’m fifty something (53). I remember an entire life without the bloody internet.

Also, Me: And, how good was that?

Me: Well, it was simpler. Life wasn’t influenced (except by glossy magazines and TV), it was definitely zero scrolling, it was more settled (or so it seemed), a day was a day, and it wasn’t turned on 24/7/365, it was healthy (define healthy again?), it was quiet (I had to save up for records and tapes and music and a record player and a tape player and a discman… it was very quiet).

Also, Me: It was a bit scary though, it was also a bit lonely. It was a lot of being just on my own…

Me: But it was also much safer (or so it seemed), more imagination, more time (yep, the time I waste now), more unknown adventure, more in person, more committed (ugh, why did I say yes to going out…), more… you know, real (in my case, that is debatable).

Also, Me: It was also more doubt fairy, more confusion, more self-destruction, more self-loathing, more pretending to be okay, more fitting in, more catastrophizing, more sacrifice, shittier ill-informed decisions. More alone.

Me: Has the internet, really, stopped all that awful stuff for me? … (deep breath in), Yep, well, a lot of it, plus so much work on yourself.


Me: OK, we’ll write about the internet.

And here we are, writing about the internet, as a 53-year-old, non-binary, pansexual, silver-haired, educated, informed and supported by an amazing community and beautiful friends like me, human. I now have language that helps me to articulate how I feel and think about myself and who I am. I now know that I have people like me out there in the world, in my workplace, in my national community, in my local community, in my friend circles.

I know that I am not alone. I know that not only is my difference mine and it’s a beautiful part of me, I’m also proud of my difference (well, most of the time). I know that I can speak with and listen to kind-hearted, compassionate, complex, and incredible humans like me and have us all be comfortable in each other’s company. I can tell my stories. I can be involved with my community and be a leader and speaker—and this is all because of the internet.

The internet has many sides and many faces. It is a place of wonder—mind-opening, eye-opening, and life-opening essential human experiences. All at my fingertips, to find out about and decide to do something with—to aim for, to explore, should I want to. It is a place to find out more. It is also a place to find support, friends, lovers, good information, education, connection, confidence, and access. Maybe if I had had the internet sooner, I might have found all my Beautiful Humans earlier. Those Beautiful Humans have saved my life on more than one occasion.

It’s not Everything though. Not saying it isn’t an important tool. But it is a tool. 

As with all of life, balance is important. (Yes, it has taken 50-odd years to figure this one out.) As a teeny tiny little thing growing up in the 1970s in the far west of Queensland, Australia, I could have used some of the information about being different that I now know, and the connections I have made to not feel so on my bloody own. But hey, it was the 1970s. In Queensland. In the outback and, did I mention, it was the 1970s.

How could life have been different if the internet had exploded in an earlier decade? Such a speculative question. God, it could be anything. It could be worse. Because we all know that as optimistic as the early internet was, humans unfortunately are humans and although the internet does so much good, it also has the potential to do so much harm. Use it wisely and build balance with people who are supportive of you.

In reality, I don’t think the internet in the 1970s would have done me much good. It came along at the time that it did and at the time in my life when I was ready for it. I mean, I am exactly who I am, who I am meant to be, even with all the trauma, pain, joy, and adventures. Everything. I wouldn’t be me if the internet had been available in the 1970s.

Trust me, even as an informed, educated “Adult,” the internet has led me down paths that I look back on now and think, oorf, I’m really glad that time and that behavior has worked itself out of my system. Online “Dating” … I have had a life, that’s for sure—I’ll not say more.

Here we are at the end of a tough year and I’m writing about the internet. As a pansexual non-binary person, even as old as I am, the internet has been a pretty damned good invention. My close circle of loved ones, friends, and chosen family are all in my life because I looked up “Bisexual support groups” on the internet over five years ago.

I discovered the language I needed to be confident to be me—100% me—non-binary at 49—words to dissolve the seesaw in my brain about not being/feeling like the assigned female at birth that I had spent my life fighting and trying to control.

Tomboy was the closest word I had and that wasn’t working at 49. Butch (well sometimes, but not all the time). I discovered my voice. I found out that my rage over injustice and discrimination has a place.

I discovered I could write. I have always written, but like, I could really write and be published and articulate not only my stories but also write for those without a platform, for others in our community.

I discovered my activism. I am part of networks and organizations that are there for our community.

I discovered my advocacy and my desire to work with so many people speaking up for themselves and for others.

I discovered the calm in knowing what I know now. The calm in being with people who are like me. The calm of care from those people as I travel the remainder of my life with the grief that I have.

I discovered the care I have for our community and their struggles, their heartaches, their humanity, and their joy. We are all just human beings traveling through the years, trying so hard to be the best of ourselves.

I discovered the joy of our community all over the world. Hello, Robyn. Hello, Peg. Hello, Elisabeth. Hello, Stephen. Hello, Misha. Hello, Ripley!

What has the internet ever done for me…

A beautiful and magnificent bloody lot!


Remember: it’s just a tool, use it well and wisely; use it to find those who care about you and support you; use it to find your community. Oh, and use it to find amazing music, and art, and adventures, and your Beautiful Humans!

Riley Quinn lives in a quiet village in New South Wales, in a comfy house with a great view and five rescued kit cats. Riley is 53, pansexual, non-binary, tattooed and wanting more tattoos, and living with DID. They are a writer, painter, speaker of lived experience stories, the Vice President of the Sydney Bi+ Network and founder of BOLDER, a community for Bi+, Pan, Omni, Poly, MGA, and Queer humans who are 40+ all over the world.

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