The digital divide is a seemingly simple subject that most people tend to misinterpret and underestimate, but it is quite important for us to understand what exactly it is and how we each individually fit into it with our unique histories and identities. In a nutshell, a digital divide is essentially a “digital gap” between those who have to ability to take advantage of new technologies versus those who don’t. Digital divides may spawn due to a variety of different reasons and are often rooted in key, fundamental factors such as economic status 💵, geographic location 🌎, race 👱🏻♂️👱🏾♂️👱🏿♂️, gender 👩🏻👩🏼👩🏽, sex ♂♀, and sexual orientation 👬👭. In this blog post, I will try to analyze and determine where I, as an individual, fit into these various existing digital divides and how they affected my life and development.
Let’s take a deeper look into some of the digital divides mentioned previously. Economic status and geographic location are often intertwined and heavily correlated. One’s geographic location can, in many cases, determine his or her economic status, and one’s economic status can, in the future, influence his or her geographic location. This is an important idea to consider when analyzing the digital divide because technology favors those who are economically and geographically privileged. As for me, I was lucky to have been raised up in a somewhat well-to-do, middle class suburb of Dallas where digital technology was prevalent everywhere while I was growing up. From elementary through high school, our education was heavily dependent on technology. For instance, in high school, every student received a personal iPad that they could keep until graduation.
It’s quite obvious that this is a privilege that most students across the country don’t have. A lack of technology is detrimental to those who are underprivileged, especially in a world that is pacing towards a digital future. Many of the opportunities which come with the internet will be absent from those who do not possess a means to access them. The most fundamental concept in American culture is the idea of equality of opportunity, and a lack of technology prevents this form of equality from ever being achieved. The government should have a moral responsibility to provide underprivileged schools across the country with access to technology so that their students will have the same opportunities afforded to them as those anywhere else in the country. It’s an expensive proposition, but one that is necessary and fruitful in the long run. Instead of spending trillions of dollars overseas on pointless wars, perhaps it would be of more benefit to the American people to invest that money on education instead 🤷♂️🤔.
Now let’s take a look into how race and gender play into creating digital divides. It is no secret that the tech industry is dominated by white men.
This is often unintentionally reflected in the products, services, and policies produced by tech companies. Consequently, the internet becomes less inclusive of people who are not white and male, resulting in a digital divide. If technologies such as the internet are less inclusive of a certain group of people, that group of people are inherently disadvantaged in terms of the opportunities presented to them. This is why diversity is such an important value to have in the workplace, for it is essential that people of all backgrounds are represented. This is the only way a company can produce services that benefit everyone equally (https://www.forbes.com/sites/rsmdiscovery/2018/08/22/why-workplace-diversity-is-so-important-and-why-its-so-hard-to-achieve/#254792723096). As a male, I most likely benefit from the internet in ways that a lot of women cannot. For example, I don’t have to deal with the kind of sexism and sexual harassment women face online from men who dominate many websites 👎. This can discourage many women from using the internet, preventing them from seeking life-changing opportunities. Therefore, it is extremely important that we make the internet inclusive of everyone. As a male, I’ve always been privileged in terms of the opportunities I’ve had with technology and the internet in general.