The digital divide never seemed to catch my attention until I was made aware of it throughout this course. What’s crazy to think about is that I used to be considered “disadvantaged” when talking about internet access or even new technologies. Looking back on it now, it’s easy to gauge my experience with the digital divide, especially when talking about race, class, access and how I’ve grown as a person after switching sides of the digital divide.
My experience with internet didn’t officially start until middle school. Until that moment, there was no computer in my house let alone any internet access. My parents, being from India and having just immigrated to America before I was born, had never learned to use a computer. They were under the impression that since they never needed it, I didn’t either.
The only time I was able to use a computer was at school during computer class. Even the library wasn’t an option because I was too afraid to show my peers that I didn’t know how to manage a computer. Outside of this, it was also hard to keep in contact with my family members who lived so far away. I didn’t know how email or Myspace worked. Since I had never kept constant contact with my extended family, I now have weak relationships with many of them today, so much so that I feel awkward visiting family in India.
One thing I personally learned was that when you don’t have access to something, you feel as though you need it more then you really do. Another example of how this affected me is that when I am in certain situations with family or friends, I don’t necessarily say what’s in my heart. I have to google things to figure out what say in certain situations. The aforementioned is an example of how I rely on the internet when I really shouldn’t.
On the flip side, however, I can say my experience has molded me into who I am. I can’t really blame my parents because they provided me with everything they could. Buying a computer and paying a monthly internet bill gets pretty costly. Everybody doesn’t like computers, but nobody doesn’t like paying for them. We were in a class which didn’t allow us to buy a lot of things because of price.
What made it more difficult during the time was that my parents had trouble finding jobs because of their race. But again, perhaps everyone should see the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to the digital divide. I also didn’t have a television in my room, a cell phone, or video games until I got to high school. I can certainly thank my parents for not spoiling me.
Since I didn’t have a television or video games, more often than not, I was forced to play outside and interact with people. It gave me a chance to craft my identity, which I feel is a great example of Kairos, because I made it the opportune moment to grow and show people who I really was.
Myspace around this time was huge and almost all my friends used it except for me. I saw how it was so addicting and affecting people’s lives. In school, students would lie and go to the library just so they could get on Myspace. People lied on their accounts all the time just to look “cool”. I think the pathos of Myspace was accomplished: it made people happy and because it made them happy they became addicted to it. Myspace is just one of many sites in which I personally have chosen to never use to this day.
There’s a long list of social media sites which I have strayed from for awhile. Snapchat, Instagram, Myspace, and even Twitter (until I was in this class) are on that list. The reason being, I don’t see any personal benefit in using these sites. Also I don’t trust them. I learned sometime back that Snapchat’s servers got hacked once and peoples private photos became part of someone’s personal albums.
That is just one example of how people don’t realize what they do over the internet and social media could hurt them. No one expects their private photos to be seen because when we agree to the terms and conditions without reading them, we just assume everything is ok. I guess the people missed the section about what happens when the servers get hacked, but it’s alright as long as you click on that check box.
Facebook is the only social media site I use. It is very reputable but even then I limit what all I put on it. I don’t post any pictures of me that would be shameful because even if I delete them, there is no guarantee they are actually “deleted”. Other then that, I mostly just use news sites such as ESPN, CNN, or the Weather Channel. Ever since I have started taking this class, I have really cut many of things I do in fear for my privacy.
Logically, I stopped saving my passwords online and visiting sketchy sites. It seems very ironic, now that I am on the side of the divide with access, I am limiting what I do. When I was younger and didn’t have access, I thought I needed it. After being on both sides though, the side I am currently on is much better since I have access when I need it now. I have grown to not misuse the internet to which I can thank my upbringing of limited access.