Web Rashies

Lovers Point Surf

A rash guard or rashie is water wear used by surfers to protect themselves from skin rashes caused by abrasions that come from their surfboards. The board’s wax can hold sand from the beach that can chafe the body, as the surfer paddles out to catch the next wave. These shirts are usually made of spandex and nylon or polyester. Rashies also offer UV protection and defend against jellyfish stings.

For some reason Anne was online shopping for rash guards this morning. When I stuck my head into the computer room, on my way out the door, I saw the clothing webpage on the screen. I had to ask, “What are you buying now?” “A rash guard”, was her reply to my snarky question. “A what?” “A rash guard, it’s for surfing the web.” “What’s a rash guard?” “You don’t know? Well, I guess that I’m just hipper than you.” Not cool Anne.

I eventually figured it out, but why she was looking at rash guards in the first place is still a mystery to me. We live in Saint Louis, about as far from good surfing as you can get. So, unless she is planning on surfing down the Mississippi, I still don’t know why she would need one. That is unless you really do need a rashie to surf the web?

Subsequent research (i.e. more Internet surfing) unearthed an article by Jean Poly, who claims credit for coining the metaphor, surfing the web. It was in the early nineties and the nascent World Wide Web was an undiscovered country to most people. Poly was tasked to write a beginner’s guide to the Internet. Casting about for a hook for the article, something fun and a little bit tricky, seemed called for. To a beginner, the Internet appeared as a vast unexplored ocean. So, Poly searched for a metaphor that was “fishy, net-like [and] nautical”. Surfing the Internet was born.

Twenty years later, the web has grown up to become more than just a novelty. In fact, it has become a daily necessity. From bulletin boards and FTP sites, the Internet has evolved to include a myriad of day-to-day routines. Some that weren’t even fully envisioned back then, like online shopping. Along with the benefits of the web, there are also some downsides to it too, like spear phishing, just to keep the nautical theme going. So maybe shopping for some protective garb is warranted after all. There are sharks and barracudas out there on the World Wide Web, so be careful while surfing the Internet.

PS – Anne told me tonight that she ordered a rash guard to give her UV protection while on the beach, up at the cabin.

2 thoughts on “Web Rashies

  1. The reason I was ordering a rashguard now, at the end of September was an email offering 35% off summer swimwear. Of course, now I’ll have even more email from this company. (I don’t know how we got on their list to begin with, but oh well.)

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