Does anyone remember PINE? It was the e-mail system universities were using back when bison still roamed the plains and my friends and I had just graduated high school. At that point in history, very few of us really knew what to do with e-mail. At the start of the semester we'd bang out a tedious, misspelled tome to our friend in Boston or our girlfriend in New York and then we'd forget all about e-mail for multi-week stretches.
Twelve years later, all civilised peoples have moved to using e-mail on a daily basis. All civilised peoples but the Welsh. One of the best ways to hide from a Welsh person is to send him or her an e-mail telling them where you are.
On the whole, Welsh people seem to approach the internet like a complicated Christmas present they didn't ask for, as if the world has given them a Bowflex. They're appreciative, and a handful of them have taken to it and developed killer abs, but for the most part they would have preferred that Voices of the Valley CD and perhaps a gift certificate to NEXT.
I would suspect that all of this country's regular internet users would fit comfortably into the available seating at a Bangor City FC home game. And most of them would work for the BBC.
For those of us blogging in Welsh -- less than 80 at my last count -- we find it is very difficult to get past the "What is a blog?" question. And with the exception of Dogfael, who seems to blog every 12 minutes, Welshies tend not to be the most dedicated of bloggers. With English blogs, I will assume they've gone dead if they go without updates for a month. With Welsh blogs, I find the window needs to be about six months.
It's not that the Welsh are mentally slow or any such crap*, it's just that they tend not to trust the whole thing. Before moving here, I had never been asked whether I was concerned about the possible negative effects of keeping a blog. I get asked that question all the time over here, referring to my English blog, my Welsh blog or both. And the tone of the question implies not just that I should be concerned but that I shouldn't be doing it in the first place -- the tone one would perhaps use if asking: "I'm sure it's invigorating, but aren't you concerned that bathing naked in the Taff will get you arrested?"
Last semester, people in my course were instructed to form groups for a project that will become the bane of my existence in the coming semester. As always happens when classmates are forced to do group projects, we immediately discovered that none of us could be arsed to adjust our schedules so as to meet with one another. To counter this, I decided to create a Google Group that would allow us to stay in e-mail contact and set up a basic running structure. This worked slightly less effectively than if I had tried to recruit for Promise Keepers. A week later, we still had failed to come up with a name for the group (a goofy requirement of the course). When I pressed on this, I discovered that the majority of my group members had not checked their e-mail. In a week.
In a way, it is very endearing. Having previously worked in a web-based company, I'll be the first to admit that the internet is not the World-Peace-Making Magic Box that people sold it as in the 1990s. It doesn't bother me that I am unlikely to hear a conversation about "hi-def compression and the emerging rival optical disc formats" in the Mochyn Du. Taking technology with a grain of salt is a good thing. But, come on, answer my freakin' e-mails, will you?
*I have actually had one or two people try to tell me that Welsh people aren't all that bright. OK, fuckers, then why don't you tell me who developed the equals sign? And the word "zenzizenzizenzic?" And the Jolly Roger? And the sleeping bag? That's right, bitches, the sleeping bag. Your ass would be freezing on camping trips if it weren't for the Welsh.