A bird sits inside of a cage waiting to be let out, but knows only what can be see through the barred windows of its cage. Once let out, the bird sees a world much more complex than it could have imagined. While no longer bound by the restraints of the cage, the bird is faced with dangers it never would have experienced otherwise.
The advent of the Internet, a mere decade before my birth, utterly changed the face of humanity as we know it, a notion I can only envision. Like a metaphoric utopia, the Internet emerged as a conception of a better life. We had no idea what this ethereal notion was, but we knew we wanted it. We still do not fully understand what these technologies mean, but we are still obsessed with them. Those who have lived through this shift, such as my parents, made the decision to jump on this technological bandwagon.
Although current computing technology is the most modern must-have in worldwide society, not everyone has access to these essential communication devices. As someone who uses the Internet for research, communication, and entertainment daily, I conceptually cannot understand what life would be like otherwise. I have experienced the development and experimental stages of technology and am amazed daily at how far we have come in so little time. While I do not like to admit it, I rely on the Internet and feel lost if it’s ever abruptly taken away. This intangible technological innovation envisioned by someone much more worthy than myself that I could never fully understand is the basis of so many of my relationships, life experiences, and decisions.
As a student at a premier research institution, computers are essential to everyday life at the University of Texas. I use my computer to do work in classes throughout the day, since it has Internet access, word processing capabilities, and access to communication. While I could technically complete schoolwork without these features, most courses require some sort of online interaction, while some are taught entirely online. I enjoy the flexibility that online classes provide and realize that completing work this way would not even be considered plausible in the past. Eventually, the technology we can’t imagine ourselves without in society will be obsolete. These everyday sundries that have become too familiar will be simple memories only acknowledged at the reminiscence of the past. Until this day comes, and it may not during my life, I will never know what its like to be below the digital divide.
Those who lack Internet access can be likened to the caged bird, each only controlling a small piece of a much larger world. The issue is not that of a skewed opportunity, but simply a control struggle that each victim cannot fight on their own. We should not limit our abilities to discern meaning by narrowing our horizons, though technology is an intrinsic facet of every day life. While responsibility lies in the hands of policymakers, those of us who utilize communication technologies, independent of reasoning, must acknowledge the realities of the digital divide.