Jenny grew up largely ensconced within the comforting embrace of ebooks and the Internet. Of course there was a family and friends and a physical location and all of that, but when she thinks of her past, she thinks of digital vistas that transported her to worlds beyond imagining, to lands of make believe and adventure and wonder and terror far more than she thinks of school and homework and parks and vacations.
She was never more than an average student, at best. The most common complaint her teachers had about her was her lack of focus, which was never entirely accurate; she had focus in spades. She simply spent it on parts of her life outside of school, except when school interested her. Mostly that meant that she did really well in any class that had anything to do with computers. She sometimes took some interest in math and programming, though that was later in her school career.
Truth be told, most of her education had nothing to do with her teachers. She often barely noticed them. She learned most of what she needed online, and school provided little more than a place for her to sit, a power source for her tab, and direction for what to dig into. She took those directions mostly as suggestions rather than as requirements.
For all her various teachers’ hand-wringing about it, she turned that experience into a healthy career in computer security by the time she hit her late teens. She was good enough that she had her pick of several offers; she went with a military posting as a civilian contractor because the pay was good, it seemed less likely that she’d have to bother with a lot of meetings, and most importantly, it seemed like the most challenging by far. So she was wrong about the meetings; two out of three ain’t bad.
Challenge became a serious driving force for her, and was the reason she volunteered to leave Earth behind. Her younger self could hardly have conceived of such a notion; cut herself off from the Internet and the vast riches of knowledge and entertainment it possessed? ON PURPOSE? But by the time the opportunity arose, she was fed up with the mismanagement that was rampant on the Internet, and realized that if she did go to a new world, she could be responsible for the creation of an Internet that, by its very architecture, could not be politically mismanaged. One that was truly open and accessible, the way every geek and nerd raged that the Earth-bound internet should have always been.
By the time she was done working through those possibilities, she couldn’t imagine NOT going. She began to feel like, if she didn’t go, someone else would set up another internet, and of course they’d get it wrong. It’d be just like the one here on Earth, and suffer the same problems and the same failures. She couldn’t let that happen.
Of course she knew she wasn’t the one that was actually in charge, but she still felt that by being there, she could have a positive impact, could really contribute in some major way to help the new network avoid the problems of the past. And so in the end, there really was no choice for her. She couldn’t conceive of not going.