Saturday, February 21, 2009

The New Digital Divide

While talking with Mom Dukes the other day, she used a phrase I've heard her use many times before: "on the computer."

She was trying to describe a video she had watched. She reported that she had done so "on the computer." The choice of phrase struck me as both normal and mundane. At first.

After I thought about it for a little bit, though, it occurred to me that she had pinned herself on one side of the digital divide. The side that lives somewhere in the middle of the 20th Century. The side that relates awkwardly to the hardware that has invaded their lives. The side that would probably leave their laptops behind were their homes to catch on fire. If they own a laptop, that is.

On the other side of the digital divide are the people who use words like "Google" and "YouTube" and "Twitter" as verbs. The side that relates to the hardware as if it were a car. Or a telephone. Or a TV. The side that creates the software which is used to perpetually reconstruct the framework of their lives. The side that lives somewhere in the late 22nd Century.

I know that the phrase "Digital Divide" is traditionally used to express the access gap between the people who have the resources to get online and those who cannot. But, let's be honest, that application is dated.

The New Digital Divide has much more to do with relatability. It is, simply, the difference between "getting on the computer" and living seamlessly on the interwebs.

I may or may not be late to the party with that realization. But, I'm pretty sure, it's truthier than Paul Pierce and Stephen Colbert put together.

1 comment:

trE said...

I do not know what I would do if my mother "found the internet." LOL... You get my drift. *shakes head at the thought*