War for the Web
23 04.12

The Digital Divide exemplified

The Digital Divide is sort of an amorphous concept, unless you’re on the wrong side of it. Most of us use the Internet for Facebook, Twitter and catching up, most of the time. But we also do things like post Resumes online, and apply for jobs, and send emails to bosses and for opportunities, and we should not take those for granted because there are people who cannot do that, and it costs.

There are entire communities in the United States without Internet access, and the biggest one of note is the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. The entire area has limited Internet, and the majority of people living there don’t even have phone service. Imagine trying to connect, take advantage of the business and educational opportunities that exist, or even just have a social life with no phone and no web.

But the problem goes deeper. This is already an impoverished community. Three times as many people die of diabetes in the Navajo Nation than in the United States at large. Per Capita income is just over $7,000 per year, the state with the lowest is Mississippi, which has a Per Capita income of around $20,000 per year. Puerto Rico even beats the Navajo Nation. Unemployment is over 40%, and the poverty rate is around 36%. Those are some pretty damning statistics, and coupled with the fact that the majority of the Navajo Nation not only don’t have Internet access, but cannot get it, means that there’s really no way for them to rise up.

Take the story of Wilhelmina Tsosie. This is a woman who served in the United States Armed forces, then moved back home to start a family. Now she’s trying to improve her prospects by getting an education. That’s the American dream. But Wilhelmina is having trouble finishing school because in order to complete online tests and homework assignments for her nursing program, she has to drive 30 miles to a hotel, squat in their lobby and use their connection. Now that gas prices are rising, she has to decide between completing her assignments and feeding her family. You can probably guess which wins.

There is literally no way for this community to succeed, the game is rigged against them. A lack of Internet service means a lack of economic opportunities, a lack of educational opportunities, and even has medical consequences for patients on the reservation. The Internet gives us so much, and many of us take it for granted, it takes seeing those without to really open our eyes to the incredible importance of connectivity in our lives. I’d encourage you to find out more from the Huffington Post.


Share this post


Join the discussion