We have the ability to control and present our own identity online through linguistic means. What an individual posts on the Internet and on social media creates his or her digital identity. This digital footprint is what people know you as when you are unable to get together in person. The amount of access one has to the Internet can impact the number of opportunities one can have in terms of friendships, education and employment. I am almost 2,000 miles away from my home in Scarsdale, New York, but I am able to stay connected to my friends and family, and know what goes on in their daily lives by having access to the Internet. Through Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facetime, and other applications, I can tell what my friends and family are doing at almost any time of the day. Even when I do not talk to these people, I still feel connected to their lives through their social media pages. I am from an area where mostly everyone owns a computer and a smart phone, and has access to the Internet. I sometimes feel as if I am at school with my friends as I live vicariously through their pictures. Staying connected is simple even when I am so far away. I am very lucky that I have the ability to keep the friendships from my hometown even though High School is over and we are all at colleges across the country. When I go back to New York for the school breaks I know my relationships with my friends will go back to normal since I am constantly updated about their lives at school. I recognize that this is not the case for some. By having access to the Internet, I have the opportunity to stay connected. For people who are not able to stay connected this way, I feel that leaving home to go to college would be very challenging, and could also indirectly make them have fewer opportunities in the future.
Having access to the Internet also presents more opportunities when it comes to finding a job and securing my future. Last semester I worked as an associate for the student run PR firm on campus called the Texas Tower. I learned about this position by scrolling through the UT website, and applied online. After I submitted the application, I went in for an interview and was hired. I would not have had the opportunity to work there unless I had access to the Internet since I found out about the job and applied both online. There are numerous other internships and jobs for college students that can be found online whether it is from the UT website or other websites. Having the ability to access this information is beneficial to both my life today as a student, and for my future as the more internships and jobs I can explore, the more knowledge I can acquire and apply what I learned in the classroom.
I feel that having the ability to access the World Wide Web has enabled me to separate myself from others in many ways. Not only does it present more opportunities, but it also allows me to boost my knowledge of events across the globe. A main cause of the digital divide is due to what economic class one is in. Families with a lower income are typically at a disadvantage since they cannot afford a computer, smartphone, or whatever the latest technology is. In my hometown, the schools and public libraries have computers for the public to use. In school, I was taught to how to use programs on the computer like Word, PowerPoint, Safari, etc. Having this knowledge puts me at a competitive advantage because I can use these applications, which allows me to process a higher proficiency of comprehension. I have access to online libraries and know how to navigate online databases. Typically, people who are in a lower class do not have access to a personal computer or to computers at a public library. Even for those areas where the libraries have computers, some of the towns cannot afford to hire professionals to teach people how to use them. If there is not anyone there to teach individuals how to use computers, then having them is a waste. The digital divide has an effect on education since people who cannot access the computer cannot use it for learning or career purposes, and therefore are limited about what is out there on the Internet. I was fortunate to have the chance to learn about these tools through my school.
Enough about school, I’m ready to talk about more interesting things. The Internet is full of cool websites, but it can be boring if you don’t know where to look. I have had access to the Internet and a computer ever since I was little child, and have been frequently participating in online ever since. Today, I would say that I use and explore the typical young white girl sites like BuzzFeed, Facebook, Singer22, Tobi, Netflix, YouTube, Pinterest, and any other food or shopping websites. I definitely think that by using these websites my privacy is compromised. What I do on these websites somewhat reflects who I am, which is a social person who likes clothes, food, movies, and finding funny things to make me procrastinate from my homework. When I go on these websites, they remember my individual preferences from cookies. For those who do not know, cookies are pieces of information stored by your web browser, and the software program you use to visit that site. Cookies track online activities across different websites. One objective of cookies is to customize people’s browsing experience by delivering ads targeted to that person’s interests. So, when I shop online on one site, I usually will later see an advertisement for that clothing website on my Facebook. When this first started to occur, I would think, “hmm, that’s really ironic”, but then I started to research and found out that this was not a coincidence. My social footprint on the Internet has been established for all advertisers to see and they now target me with ads for items which they believe that I would be interested in purchasing.