Ctrl Alt Delete by Emma Gannon

Ctrl, Alt; Delete by Emma Gannon

It’s hard to remember my life without thinking, in turn, of the internet. The internet became big just at the right time for me, I’d had years of roaming and playing outside as a child and now I was 13 with dial-up. The internet was the home of the Hamster Dance, Dancing Baby, and Weebl’s Stuff. Until well after University, I spent the majority of my time online. I had (many) a blog before they were the norm, I learned how to code, I found wonderful online friends, and I visited A LOT of Stargate SG-1 fan sites (I wrote them all down in a notepad that I wish I still owned).

The internet at 13, 16, hell even 25 isn’t the internet today, and part of me does freak out at the thought of there being a generation that doesn’t know what it means to be internet free. So reading Emma’s book Ctrl, Alt; Delete: How I Grew Up Online, really resonated with me.

cad“Emma Gannon was born in 1989, the year the World Wide Web was conceived, so she’s literally grown up alongside the Internet. There’ve been late night chat room experiments, sexting from a Nokia and dubious webcam exchanges. And let’s not forget catfishing, MSN, digital friendships and #feminism. She was basically social networking way before it was a thing – and she’s even made a successful career from it. Ctrl Alt Delete is Emma’s painfully funny and timely memoir, in which she aims to bring a little hope to anybody who has played out a significant part of their life online. Her confessions, revelations and honesty may even make you log off social media (at least for an hour).” GoodReads.

I don’t know much about millennial bloggers, mainly because I’ve not put in the time to find out, but I do follow Emma’s blog, Girl Lost in the City. How I found Emma’s blog, I’ve no idea. It was probably one of those days where I went inception style through bloggers ‘favourite’ links until I came upon hers. Confession time: I actually won something on her blog and then bugged for her it for ages as the company was very difficult about it. She must have found me terribly irritating, and I feel rather embarrassed-guilty about it, so sorry about that Emma! This is the downside of instant internet life and ‘brand’, customers feel so entitled.

As she is only three years younger than me, a lot of her younger internet experiences were a lot like mine. I sat and chatted to strangers (who could have been grooming me) in chat rooms and over MSN. I pretended to be older and changed my name so guys would want to talk to me. 30-year-old Alice finds 13-year-old Alice frightening. What was I thinking? The internet wasn’t safe then, which is a weird thing to say now.

I suppose now (on a simplistic level) the internet isn’t safe now because you can find so much information about someone, then it wasn’t safe then because you didn’t know to stop yourself from spilling that information. Emma talks about how she learnt to be more guarded with what she put out there, and so did I.

Ctrl, Alt; Delete isn’t just a story about the things Emma did on the early days of the net, it’s about how this set her up to be the awesome person she is today. What I most admire about her is that she really knows her stuff, and she’s worked damn hard to get where she is today. She has this epic risk taking ability and seems very self-aware (knowing when to leap and when to step back).

It’s also a book that talks about how the internet can be a power for good and for change when we let it. It doesn’t have to be a platform for narcissism. Take Feminism, I can categorically say I would not be a feminist without the help of the internet. It’s given me access to a wealth of information and people that have developed the way I think now.

Ctrl, Alt; Delete is a fantastic book, and I recommend you read it. There is also a podcast accompaniment to the book, in which Emma interviews awesome humans (Dawn O’Porter, Zoey Suggs, and Laurie Penny to name but a few) which is just as inspiring.

What has the internet given you?


9 thoughts on “Ctrl, Alt; Delete by Emma Gannon

  1. This is so interesting! It’s a sobering thought to realise that I’ve never really lived in an internet-free world, although like you I never really had access to it at home until I was about 13. It’s a different world to the one our parents grew up in, and different again from the new generation, who are growing up with smartphones and tablets and all the rest. I agree that there are definitely good and bad things about it, although I’m not sure whether one outweighs the other. Gannon’s comments about positive things like feminism are definitely compelling, and the Internet definitely helped me develop a better understanding of feminism and find other like-minded people. 🙂


    1. It’s so weird to think about, isn’t it! I feel like this is the defining thing that separates our generation. We’re like the generation that experienced the industrial revolution just as it kicked off full-scale.

      I cannot imagine now living without my smartphone. I remember the days when you just had to hope your friends turned up when you went to meet them, and you always would make sure you were on time.


  2. Oh God the internet has given me so, so much. This wonderful book blogging community (you, Alice!), and absolutely a ton of feminism and new ways of thinking about intersectionality. And just, ugh, everything. The internet is this total revolution in how the world functions, and I got to be there watching it happen. I mean, how LUCKY.

    Also, I love hearing about people’s early internet adventures. I was not an early internet adopter due to my parents’ extreme cautiousness about potential internet stalkers, and also due to the fact that we only had dial-up and we barely had dial-up.


    1. Aww 😀 I love the book blogging community so much, and I don’t socialise in it enough! It may be the best bit about the internet.

      I love hearing about late adopters who still got to enjoy things like books and the outside without the temptations of a screen.


  3. That sounds like a really interesting book. It also would get you thinking a lot about yourself and your own experiences. It’s strange that when we were younger it wasn’t good to share details about yourself or even use your real name, now it’s what people do all the time. Randomly, I can remember using the MSN chatrooms until the last minute they closed haha.


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