So, it maybe pretty evident from my previous posts, or from current news stories that get told everyday, but incase you have been living under a rock (or shall we say, on the other side of the digital divide…) there is always a debate on how scary the internet is. O’hara et al. investigates this, but also the case of substituting people for their online presence, drawing on the quote “the disappearance of the body” (2008:1). Similarly, Garfinkel warns us on the trial of our lives we may leave online without realising (2000).
However, it is not all negative. Bell et al. informs us that leaving fragments of our lives online is a positive aspect in that when using the internet, we “will be able to summon up everything you have ever seen, heard, or done. And you will be in total control” (2009:3). As after all, it takes up virtually no time nor money to upload our “2012 Christmas memories” or “Ibiza with the girls” picture album onto Facebook, nor the messages we can keep of gossiping, heart to hearts or amusing conversations. As “soon you will be able to record your entire life digitally. It’s possible, affordable, and beneficial” (Bell, 2009:3).
However, this is of course assuming everyone has the internet. And perhaps we take this far too much in vain. We ask people “Are you on Facebook?” with the same act of casualness and expectancy of “Do you drink?” or “Do you have a mobile phone?” or “Do you have friends?” If someone says no to any of the above, we look confused and wonder, why not? I’ve even heard conversations where someone admitted they didn’t have a Facebook profile and the reply was “What have you got to hide?”
Well… what if that person doesn’t have anything to hide? They just weren’t connected to the global village? This is when the new binary opposition sets in: those who are connected to the internet, and those who are not. The Digital Divide. Flew describes that the reason for this divide can “arise from the broader social inequalities based upon social class and income, occupation, gender, race and ethnicity” (2003:71). So perhaps maybe the digital divide is not so much about choice, but income to have this luxury, or seeing the need for it in their lives. As “the most extreme digital divide is between the so-called “First World” economics (…) and the “Third World” (ibid). More so, Bauerlein describes the population of people who do not have broadband as the “digital immigrants” whereby they have to learn a whole new world; the digital world (2011).
Flew tells us that the USA used to be ahead of the league as the nation with the most internet activity, but now it is falling behind to other countries. While, I’d imagine this may seem positive to some people that we are not all relying on the world wide web to function (Neil Postman). It is terrifying to many, as the below excerpt tells us that there is so much that we need to do to function in society relies on our access to the internet.
Likewise, Obama expressed his fear and promised that Every Child will be Online, as he believes this will help the economy and help children develop skills and find employment online.
Todd Sparks, summarises it well, that when we are using the internet, we are “leaving many behind, even with the greatest intentions of our government, nationally and locally.” It seems that when we ask people if they are on Facebook, we are taking it for granted they have access. While it seems frightening that we rely on the internet so much for information, interactivity and for social security, perhaps it is more frightening that it seems to be broadening the class divide more so, as Flew suggests.
Who knows maybe in the next generation I won’t be telling my children to finish their brussell sprouts, instead I’ll be commanding “Spend another half an hour on Wikipedia! There are starving digital children all over the world”.
Bauerlien, Mark (2011) The Digital Divide: Arguments for and Against Facebook, Google, Texting, and the Age of Social Networking. USA: Tarcher Publishing
Bell, Gordon et Gemmell, Jim (2009) Total Recall: How the E – Memory Revolution Will Change Everything. Boston: E P Dutton & Co
Flew, Terry (2003)New Media: An Introduction 2nd Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Garfinkel, Simson (2000) Database Nation: The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century. MA: O’Reilley Media
O’Hara, Kieron et Shadbolt, Nigel (2008) The Spy in the Coffee Machine: The End of Privacy As We Know It. London: Oneworld Publications.
Sparks, Todd. (2011). Digital Divide Versus Digital Inequality . Available: http://bsucalu.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/digital-divide-versus-digital-inequality/. Last accessed 18 Nov 2013.
Williams, Martyn. (2008). Obama Outlines Plan to Put Every Child Online. Available: http://www.pcworld.com/article/155103/obama_tech_plan.html. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.
Wylie, Alice. (2013). The Digital Divide . Available: http://smileywylie95digitaldivide.blogspot.co.uk/. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.