An Evaluation of Digital Privilege

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The first memory I have of using the internet was to play games. I would log on to my desktop PC and wait for the CPU and dial-up to turn on. In the Philippines, such access was a privilege so early on, and especially to have internet for mere tasks like games and watching silly videos online. I remember creating my first Hotmail account and the first time I logged in to MSN only to realize none of my other friends used it yet 😎. Soon enough, a majority of my time was spent online—watching videos and playing games, downloading new music on LimeWire, and chatting with friends on MSN and Yahoo! Messenger. Between now and then, a lot on the internet has changed, and the role it plays in our lives has evolved significantly.

As I reflect on how the internet shaped my upbringing, from digital journaling on Xanga to posting every semi-significant achievement and occurrence of my life on Facebook in the form of statuses and photo albums, to now—where nearly everything I do in a day involves the internet or technology in some form or another. When the internet went down in my apartment for a few hours last month, I panicked, but quickly resorted to using a digital hotspot from my smartphone to keep me connected, because when Wi-Fi fails, I still have LTE data. In each of these reflections, I see with more clarity now where I have been privileged to have access and the ability to learn and grow on the internet, and even more privileged to have had the people around me to teach me how to mindfully navigate new technology and the growing access I came to understand on the internet. The latter, I understand now, is a privilege that has helped me most in recent years, as I decide what kinds of things are important to me and going through life thinking critically, always.

When I began studying the digital divide, it was easy to see its prevalence was due to issues like cost and access, but as our class as progressed, so has my understanding of the deeper underlying issues of not just the digital divide, but all sorts of different divides that have shaped our society and culture as we exist in it today. When I emigrated to the US in 2015, I saw these divisions of party, class, and politics through the lens of television and movies 🎞, but like a spectator, I never fully understood the implications of what having the access and ability to do things actually means. I quickly learned what it meant, and even more so since recent elections. Looking back now, I think a lot of how I navigated those decisions about how I value myself and those around me have been shaped by the opportunities and privileges I have had in my life to be mindful, discerning, and open to discourse.

With access comes privilege, and with privilege comes a responsibility to not only acknowledge its existence, but to extend such benefits to those around me. Growing up, the class disparity I lived in was obvious and clear, and I have always known that the notion of “giving back” was an important one, but now I understand more that it isn’t about material objects so much as it is about providing opportunities and resources to those without it. Supplying computers and routers won’t do much for a disparaged community without the ability or knowledge to navigate through it, but given the chance, opportunities grow and from there, the possibilities are not only endless, but within reach. 🤝

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3 thoughts on “An Evaluation of Digital Privilege

  1. Very well put together essay that flowed accordingly. One big thing I think you could do is show if there was a difference in your personal life from the move from Philippines to the US and how the digital divide in these two places were different. Expanding on that you can use specific examples of your use in technology from before in the Philippines to your experiences with technology and the digital divide you experienced in the US. I believe that you could also incorporate more personal experiences such as your middle school and high school experiences with technology in to the paper and use those to tie in to your very own unique identity you have online. These such experiences could also be used to highlight how and why there is this perception of the digital divide and also continue with it to expand how these experiences will affect your future and what choices will you make since learning about the digital divide.

    -CY

  2. Great essay! Your writing style flows nicely and fit the prompt well. Your background of growing up in another country gives a nice contrast to the divides within the US. I think you could elaborate more on what the divides look like in the Philippines to give a greater understanding of your personal divides. I also think that you could discuss other specific divides you have felt online, possibly gender or race or age. Because you grew up with technology so prevalent, I think it would be an worth while addition to discuss how that has shaped your divide and how that compares to others’ experiences online who may have not had the same childhood. -CF

  3. I really enjoyed your essay and the way it flows into itself! I think one thing that you could expand on is the difference between an American Internet and a Filipino Internet and pull on your own experiences on how you’ve personally seen the digital world change. One way you could do this is by expanding upon a stark difference between the two countries and what that difference has exposed you to in terms of what the digital world is. By expanding upon that, not only do we learn more about your role in the digital world, we also learn about how you view the digital world now based off of your reflection. I think you could also focus on other divides that you have faced before since you’ve been online so much. This could also expand upon your role in the digital world and how you see it. Overall though, I really liked it! – BC

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