The Digital Divide

I was reading this wonderful post when she hit a nerve and I ended up writing a mini rant on her blog which follows:

This part stood out the most for me: “I remarked to a few people recently that the digital divide is not so much about digital literacy but in reality about those who have moved their lives almost entirely online versus those who have not.”

(mostly because I’m 25 and just left home for good last year)

I think the digital divide is sharpest amongst those your same age. I don’t have too much of a problem relating to older adults because I don’t expect them to understand Internet culture. They get a free pass. However, people my own age who can just barely and with great difficulty type their name on a keyboard get a very harsh glare in my book as I go, “WHAT?! What have you been doing?”

It’s becoming less common these days or these people are becoming better at hiding their lack of tech familiarity as they get cell phones and enjoy pressing buttons on there (who in my experience, are also the ones who show you the back of their hand as they stare at their phones when you hang out). I feel the pinching digital divide when my dearest friends cannot understand that because you move away does not mean you have to lose touch. My closest friend and I’ve grown up online together over the last ten years even when we lived two miles from each other till now living eight hours apart. Our relationship has not suffered much because of distance. But those who refuse to believe that I still exist out there, that I can be reached and respond within (usually) a couple hours, have quickly fallen off the face of the earth.

I don’t know where they are or what they’re up to. These particular people had the Internet before I did, but saw it strictly as a novelty instead of the new way of still having 2 am pillow talks any time day or night. While my point of view is that they’re ceasing to exist as they refuse to embrace technology as a mode of communication, to them, I’m the one who has bleeped out of existence, even as I send digital transmissions on Facebook, Twitter, and my blog several times a day. It’s a trail saying, “I’m still here…” and they refuse to pick up the signal.

I remember walking home ten years ago before I got the internet and thinking to myself, “There’s a whole world going on around me, surrounding me, and I don’t even know it.” But now I do. I wish they weren’t purposefully staying on the other side of the divide, sinking further away, their ears closed even as the rest of the world tries to call them over.