I saw an article (Internet Access For All: We’re One Step Closer) this morning regarding the current state of Internet access in American homes, and I had to pause. Is Internet access for all really a good thing? I know, I know… how could I even ask that question?
Let me explain.
I see a great deal of good in Internet access, but I also see a great deal of bad… and some aspects that are very questionable. While we might be one step closer to “Internet access for all”, does that come with a price that we aren’t calculating? What I mean is… Internet responsibility. So, what I’m seeing is a plan/hope to give out the tool, without an education on how to properly use it (and I don’t mean simply how to navigate, but to be responsible “Netizens”).
I mean, look at the human interface with the Internet, now (most especially the social media). While, on one hand, it seems great that so many people have found their “voices”, or platforms for their voices (whether real or imagined by various people), I often wonder about the negative kick-back that has… the false sense of relevance that it can build, the lack of fact-checking as shown in the spreading of lies in silly memes simply because a person agrees with what they say, the ability to become less than human behind a computer screen, etc., etc. If there is really a hope to have the Internet available to every American household, when will there be expectations for an education as to how to act, and how not to act? Additionally, I think folks growing up with the Internet should be taught the writer/reader side of digital literacy, and the differences it has with what we understand as traditional literacy. In short, I’d say there’s a lot of work to be done.
At the very least, I would say that there should be (for starters) some classes in elementary, middle and high schools, and yet… knowing the education system as it is, there will be the question… “Great, but what classes do we have to ditch in order to make room for these new classes?” I get that, but… this Internet access for all thing comes with potentially serious costs [and I wonder how much what is said in this article=> (Suicide rate in U.S. on the rise, with spike for girls age 10-14) might pertain to social media abuses.]
As we hurl faster and faster into the digital abyss, I just think we need to make more time to pause and explore negative and positive impacts, and how to do the Internet better before we start dishing it out like candy on Halloween. Doing anything less, I argue, comes with severe consequences.