Published On: Mon, Aug 19th, 2013

The digital divide

Jacob Gelt DekkerA new outcast is rapidly forming, the digitally excluded. Cut off from the global economy and social networks, the self imposed exiles, have nothing to look forward to but an island life of extreme material and intellectual poverty. This time, the exclusion was of their own free choice, they preferred to remain excluded and form a new outcast, in spite of all public and private efforts.

Contributing to their digital isolation were flippant arguments of love for a esoteric national language, sectarian religious impositions, false economic excuses and priorities for personal instant gratification.

In the USA and Europe, the digitally excluded are only 20-25%, mostly elderly and infants., but in Asia and the Pacific nearly two thirds of all adults are not users of internet, and in Africa it is even more, nearly 80%. Worldwide there is also a strong racial divide, black users are 30-40% fewer that all others.

Only high school educated account for about half of college educated users. For the interested amongst you, see Commerce Department Report, "Exploring the Digital Nation" summer 2013, and John B. Horrigan, senior researcher of Joint Center of Political and Economic Studies, Washington.

In order to use the global digital highway, the user has to be able to read and write., literacy is key. Even more, to connect to the global community, literacy in english is essential..

The spelling bee is long obsolete, making oneself understood is all that counts. As a literature buff, you may be crying over the loss of correct grammar, punctuation or spelling, and be insulted by a newly emerged SMS -texting language, but such is life, and our ever evolving culture. You better get used to it.

Educational institutes---schools and universities---have long been the bulwarks of reactionary conservatism, blocking progress, development and modern advance. In my schoolboy days, a fierce battle was waged against the use of ballpoint pens, versus fountain pens, nowadays, pupils are often excluded from the use of the web and applications, like Google and Wikipedia.

Although for many years I was dragged through the painful exercises of lengthy manual formula derivations, so I would understand the essential background, I cannot testify that it even created any benefit in my adult professional, social or economic life. Most of those so-called proud, bold and fierce statements by schools and educators are only to obscure inadequacies of obsolete teaching staffs.

So many schools have become breeders of a new underdog, an outcasted and impoverished subculture of the digitally excluded. In a top down, submissive society, like we still experience on the islands, the only option for students and parents is to rebel. Do not listen to your backward teachers and allow your children to use as many electronic devices as you can afford, and as often as they want; buy computers, phones and tablets,, new or used, share them, use public facilities where ever, whenever and as often as you can.

Every time your child reads an electronic message and does texting, it is practicing reading and writing, it is understanding the message and formulating a reply. Never before , the digital participants have practiced so often , so vigorously and so emphatically in school, in the yard, at home and in public. Let it be and make sure that at least they never join the new subculture of the digitally excluded.

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