The development of the internet is undoubtedly the most pivotal invention of the last half century, and also arguably the most momentous creation in the modern world as we know it. While the computer itself had existed prior to the discovery of the world wide web, the technological advancements that have been made since the conception of this fascinating global system of networks are far beyond astounding. Not only has the internet allowed us to discover things we would have never come across without its existence, but it has also stimulated exponential growth and connection as a global society. The internet is used in ways you would never imagine, and has been the foundation of our livelihood since it was created in the 1990s. Although, while a majority of teenagers among my generation see the internet as a somewhat mundane entity mainly used for social networking, shopping, and information gathering, the generations old enough to witness the creation of the internet during their teen years (and perhaps even beyond) have an entirely different view of this “network of networks”, as it is sometimes called.
Being fortunate enough to have been raised in an upper middle to upper class family, similarly to many other students here at the University of Texas, the internet has played a more than significant role in my life. Despite the fact that the internet has propelled my academic education light years ahead of where it would have been without such technology, I believe having access to the internet has also assisted in my development as a socially aware human being. Observing the strides made in regards to the internet over the last two decades, alongside the effects internet use has on our culture, I can say with complete certainty that individuals who lack access will struggle (and more than likely, fail) to achieve such a status. I recall sitting behind a computer screen in the earlier years of my elementary school education, and although internet/computer technology has experienced tremendous growth since those days, I remember those bulky, multi-colored boxes with a partially eaten apple (Apple Inc.) being there since day one. At such a young age, my use of the computer and the internet was entirely different, as the computer was just used as a tool that simply digitalized our art projects or allowed us to play games. However, even such trivial activities contributed to my development as a child among generation Y, or the millennials, as we are called. My middle school years were when things truly picked up in terms of my technology use, as it was common for 6th graders at my school to have a personal cell phone. Of course I had to fit in with the norm, so I coerced my parents into purchasing my first cell phone well before I truly needed it. I remember making futile phone calls to my parents and older sibling just to feel like I was making proper use of my newly acquired phone. The following year was when I received my first Macbook computer, again, a very common thing among 7th graders at my private day school. At this point in my life, technology was everything. From my cell phone, to my computer, to the incessant amount of television I watched, I was always looking at some sort of screen. Perhaps this hindered my childhood development in some shape or form, but as technology was rapidly advancing, so too was my use of it. Since that time, I have gone through about ten cell phones and two laptops, and I can assure you that it will not stop there. As a college student, and a member of our technologically progressive society, my computer and cell phone are quite literally my life. I would not be able to function properly without them, and this phenomenon frightens me. I have become far beyond just reliant on my technology, as it has become entirely infused with my existence.
This notion brings me to the idea of the digital divide. Although I am riding high atop the wave that has separated our society between those who have internet access and those that do not, my upbringing has blinded me to the problem that we are faced with. The internet, and technology as a whole, has become such a pivotal part of our lives that those who are not “with the times” will continue to fall further and further behind those of us that are technologically progressing each and every day.