Digital Barriers

Most people are surprised by how much I know about technology. They simply don’t expect a girl to know that much about a predominantly male field. I was lucky to be introduced to technology from a very young age and actually build an interest for it.  Living in Mexico made my pastime a lot more difficult to maintain, since we were always almost 2 years behind in technology compared to the U.S.  The Internet speeds were ridiculously lower in comparison to the ones the U.S. had at the time. Even in the classroom, the digital divide was evident. Many of my classmates didn’t know how to use a computer or browse the Internet, and very few had a computer at home.

Even in the United States, there is a growing digital divide among native and foreign-born Latinos. According to Tanzina Vega, writer for The New York Times, more than half of Hispanic Internet users in the U.S. were born in the U.S., and “79 percent of those who said they did not use the Internet were foreign born.” Like Mexico, many countries don’t have access to quality technology, making language and computer literacy the two largest barriers for immigrants to fully integrate to American living. Without computer literacy, the chances of success for immigrants reduce significantly. Immigrants are extremely underrepresented online, causing their opinions to be vulnerable to distortion by anyone online.

Voices with power, money, and resources are louder than the rest.  When we’re online, once we’re wiped clean of the physical nature of our identity, when we’re interacting as a username, reduced to a thumbnail and a bio, each of our voices is equivalent.  Social media has no middleman; we can produce, consume, and exchange ideas with anyone online. It is the responsibility of those with Internet access to assist those who are not connected and act as their voice in a space in which they are underrepresented.

Certainly, social media is not the only area in which minorities and women are underrepresented. The issue of minorities’ lack of involvement online can lead to bigger problems, like misconceptions about their community and lack of political influence. The Internet is an incredible global tool of fairness, as long as we have access and a working understanding of the online world.

This post was written by a student, and has been left unedited by the admin.

One thought on “Digital Barriers

  1. You hit the nail right on the head!

    This underrepresentation is incredibly apparent given today’s polarized political climate and discussion on immigration reform. We hear frequently from those against immigration and those advocating on behalf of immigrants and refugees from relatively disadvantaged countries, but rarely do we hear from the immigrants and refugees themselves, yet they’re the ones who would undoubtedly the most affected by this discussion and any resultant legislation (if any passes this polarized, ineffective Congress). The language barrier and lack of socioeconomic clout are to blame for much of this, but, as you’ve stated, the digital divide is making it worse. With greater technological access throughout the country, to immigrant, refugee, citizen, and resident alike, comes a greater number of perspectives in American political discourse, and this is something the United States desperately needs.

    If I were you, personally, I’d add some information about current political cases that directly relate to immigration reform and efforts to increase technological access to this portion of our population.

    Well written, classmate! It was a pleasure to read, and it made me frustrated with the current state of affairs, which, I believe, was your point.

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