Early science fiction envisioned a utopia. One where everyone would have equitable access to all technology and opportunities. Sadly, we remain extremely distant from ever attaining that utopian ideal. That’s not to say we have advanced far enough as a civilization. We have created powerful and exciting new technology like Spectrum Customer Service Phone Number. But there are many issues with enabling equitable access to most tech. The Digital Divide is a very real phenomenon. And it is about time people start addressing its impact on rural areas in particular.
The Digital Divide and Its Impact:
Internet companies constantly expand their networks. But with any internet and cable service provider, costs are a big concern. The same as any other business. So, extending coverage to a densely populated area makes sense. There are enough potential users there to help providers recoup their costs. Conversely, in a locality with only 2 people in a square mile, cost-effectiveness becomes a concern.
Even if both people subscribe to the service, providers will not recover the costs of laying down the infrastructure. So, from a business standpoint, it is only sensible to divert resources elsewhere. Somewhere where there is a higher probability of sustainable return.
But from a different perspective, this “somewhere” is typically an urban or suburban area. Both of these generally have easy access to high-speed internet all over the United States. But that automatically excludes rural areas, where populations are more spread out. This exclusion results in what many now call the Digital Divide. Read on to find out how it marginalizes rural population centers in 3 key ways:
Limited Access to Information:
Having the right to factual and accurate information is a human right. More so in the digital era. The internet and all its platforms have long been the information superhighway. With a simple Google search, anyone can access information on just about anything.
The internet is a virtual repository for all of the human knowledge (and pseudo-knowledge). Individuals with great internet access depend heavily on internet use. They use it to learn new skills, satisfy curiosities, and develop an understanding of current events. This is on top of having access to better-funded schools and public services.
But rural areas don’t always have access to great high-speed internet. By association, they have limited access to the information we all take for granted. Since many rural areas have small populations, they can easily become isolated from the right information. This handicaps their ability to function in the modern world.
Cut-Off From Work Opportunities:
Internet access does not only open up access to information. It also opens up access to channels that could help you generate revenue. From e-retailers to digital marketers to influencers, the internet has created entirely new kinds of jobs. And it also opens up access to working remotely for a larger selection of employers. In effect, the internet can potentially offer better income opportunities for a lot of people. Unfortunately, rural areas don’t get much access to these opportunities.
The lack of internet access only restricts their growth potential. Since rural areas are often in need of more income sources, this only adds to their digital marginalization. With access to the internet, however, rural communities could access more income opportunities. There can be any number of potential revenue-earning online gigs. From becoming agriculture influencers to retailing fresh produce online. Ready access to reliable internet services can help rural communities grow into stronger and more sustainable societies.
Easy Targets for Misinformation:
Finally, fake news is an unpleasant phenomenon in the Digital Age. The more exposure internet users get to factual information, the more equipped they are to identify and disregard fake news. Unfortunately, many rural internet users don’t have that luxury. Which means they remain easy targets for fake news, scams, and other dangers.
This particular problem has been very apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fake news sources from anti-vaxxers have created a divide and mistrust among a lot of people. This has seriously hampered efforts to fight the health crisis by immunizing the populace. In rural areas, people are more prone for falling prey to this type of fake and harmful information. And often without access to ready medical facilities, this only adds to the problems rural communities already face.