How Some Americans Are Still Living Without Internet Access
Ah, the modern era: the Internet Age, Digital Age, or Information Age. Whatever “Age” you call it, there’s no denying that today’s world essentially revolves around the internet. Even those of us born before the internet took over often can’t remember what life was like before Google, email, and social media pervaded every part of our lives. Younger generations have literally known nothing else.
But still, even with all this digital connectedness most of us experience on a daily basis, some Americans are living without internet access. Let’s take a look at how, why, and what that means for the future.
Americans Without Internet: Where the Web Has Yet To Connect
It can be hard to believe, but some places in America still have no high speed internet availability. Rural areas with small populations are most likely to lack an internet connection, and those pockets exist all across the country.
“In every single state, a portion of the population doesn’t have access to broadband,” writes Kaleigh Rogers in a piece for Motherboard.
Access to broadband is only half the battle, because to use the internet you need two things: A connection and a device. For some Americans, the price of a computer or tablet is just too high, assuming the connectivity infrastructure reaches their homes at all, and ultimately a lack of internet access affects daily life in more ways than you might think.
Living Without Internet
11 percent of Americans don’t use the internet, and living without the internet often means you’re at a disadvantage. The digital divide makes it difficult for students, job searchers, and workers because so many of today’s transactions and interactions take place, sometimes exclusively, online. Digital skills are irreplaceable for the modern workplace.
Think of how many tasks you do that include using the internet. Perhaps you answer emails, check your online banking, search Google for the answer to a pressing question, look up driving directions, submit college applications, search for jobs, or even take classes. If you don’t possess the skill set to use the internet and a broadband connection on which to access it, it can become difficult to be an active participant in modern life.
The question of why people aren’t online has two categories: those who are disconnected due to circumstances, and those who don’t use the internet by choice.
Why Some People Choose a Life Without Internet
There are many reasons why some people choose to live life without the internet. While the internet has undoubtedly done a great deal to advance our country and improve our lives, some people are of the opinion that that improvement has come at a cost.
Smartphone and technology addiction has become such a problem that technology rehabilitation camps are now a reality. While a lesser problem than addiction, distraction is a huge part of most people’s technology use, too. It doesn’t take long to come across people who are texting while driving, or “socializing” with a group of friends, but instead of interacting with each other, everyone is engaged with their individual device.
Those who choose to live without the internet sometimes do so in part due to a preference for real life communication, paper maps, and physical books, just to name a few things. People got along just fine before the internet existed, and we can get along just fine now without it, too. They feel that the convenience the internet offers is not worth the cost, perhaps in terms of both finances and lifestyle.
Some Americans who work in the technology industry and are on computers and the internet all day sometimes opt for an internet-free household to try to strike a balance in their life and ward of technology dependence.
Other reasons for living without the internet include expense. While prices vary between service providers, like Sprint and Suddenlink, for example, some Americans who are struggling to make ends meet may consider any price it too high a price, when things like food or healthcare can’t be taken for granted.
How Modern Americans Survive Without Internet
Surviving without the internet means different things for different Americans. If it’s lack of access that’s the problem, people either have to find a way to do what they need to do without an internet connection, or travel to a place where they can get online. If lack of a computer or digital device is the problem, using wireless internet at public libraries and internet cafes to get online can often offer a solution.
It’s likely that anyone who wants to be a part of the modern world will need to adapt to the requirement of a digital skillset and an internet connection in order to be successful.
Will Everyone Be Connected Someday?
Efforts to expand internet access to far flung rural areas and other places that lack a good connection are widespread. In some places, slow connections are as much of a problem as no connection at all. While high speed internet options like DSL, fiber optic, and cable are commonplace in urban America, satellite is often the only choice in rural areas, as the infrastructure needed for alternatives simply can’t reach remote places yet.
Closing the digital divide is absolutely a goal, and one that’s needed in order to revitalize rural America. We will perhaps see a day in the future where the only Americans living without the internet are those who have made a conscious choice to abstain.