In this day and age, it may surprise many that there are a large number of people without access to computers or the Internet. I myself was initially shocked to find out that this type of social stratification exists even in the United States. In fact, “As a national social and political issue, the digital divide emerged during the Clinton administration, which initially publicized the divide in terms of connectivity through the National Information Infrastructure (NII). Early analyses by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Pew Foundation, and other organizations stressed the dangers of an increasingly stratified society divided by inequalities in access, situating the divide as an issue requiring active national policy” (Straubhaar 110). This is a great depiction of how large the issue is and how embedded it is in our culture. The most likely explanation for my astonishment is due to the fact that I myself have been privileged with the means to utilize any technological tool necessary for education. Furthermore, I was able to own personal devices, some of which were non-essential. I even took a computer science class in high school that equipped me with many skills needed for the professional world. Certainly it is unjust that individuals with equivalent if not greater potential are subject to suffering in low-income conditions simply because they have not the means to better themselves. Meanwhile, a sardonic trend titled “first world problems” garners much more attention from the public. I have seen for myself through my frequenting of twitter, Facebook, reddit, and other social websites that many feel entitled to Internet access among other things. Hopefully though, some of these social medias can give a voice to those less fortunate.
Smartphones, along with action from organizations and governments, have made a marginal influence in closing the gap. For example, “The survey found that 56% of black respondents said they had a smartphone, compared with 53% of white respondents” (Reyes 1). In her study, Reyes found that many young citizens from low-income areas who do not have access to computers do own smartphones. These phones have many of the same functions as a computer such as access to social media sites but lack the capabilities that could help them improve their current standing. As a white male from an affluent family, I have found that I have been placed on the greener side of the pasture, so to speak. Not only do I not have to worry about where my next meal is coming from, but also lack even the concern that I will not be able to complete even the simplest task that involves utilizing a computer or the Internet. Furthermore, I am unburdened by the clear and prevalent gender facing the majority of modern industries and businesses. For years, I took this for granted. Such a fortunate disposition with an absence of societal perspective is indicative of my very social construct. Those with money are able to provide for their children while those without cannot, ever perpetuating this stratification. The current condition is a crisis and needs to be corrected.
This post was written by a student, and has been left unedited by the admin.