American Digital Divide

Even though the internet is supposed to bring us all closer together and has even been deemed a global village there are still some aspects of it that can still be considered a digital divide. Some researchers and even some individuals feel as though some technologies and sites on the World Wide Web can provoke inequalities among users. These may be racial, gender or even socioeconomic inequalities.  

I believe there is some merit to the theory of digital inequalities. I do not believe it is as prominent as the researchers are making it out to be but there is some merit for the concerns they have discussed. As boyd and Hargittai discussed in their articles about the shortcomings of certain technologies not being compatible with the darker skin tone of other races or other accents besides the American-English accent – I believe this is a legitimate concern as it speaks to the failure of these companies to consider other races and backgrounds. In my opinion, when it comes to the creation of these technologies by an American company one can’t help but to not expect much more because it is part of the American culture and mentality to ignore and/or disregard other backgrounds. This most likely also ties into the research conducted by boyd and Hargittai – focussing on the American teenagers online usage and which is why the results may be skewed in such a way that it reflects inequalities. I find it hard to believe that they would find the same results if they had looked at Canadian, British or Australian teenagers. All of these countries are much more of the mosaic than melting pot mindset.

The gender inequalities that may be seen online would be in regards to the stigma of males using certain websites like Tumblr, I Heart It or Pintrest which are considered “girly” websites. Finding a male user on these sites are rare and usually met with awe and adoration from the female users but should their male friends find out the chances of them being teased are high. This also is the case with female users on online gaming websites like World of Warcraft etc, male users are constantly surprised to find serious female gamers on such websites, and even on online xbox or n64 connections. In this day and age one would think that these gender stereotypes would have been broken down by now.

I find it hard to consider the readings for this week legitimate because as far as I can tell it has been limited to the American public and hasn’t considered other countries that are more culturally accepting and where diversity is celebrated. In Canada and other countries, no I do not think offline social divisions would be replicated online (not that there are that many offline) or amplified. However, if I am considering just the American public, which I do not have any experience with, yes I do see it being amplified and replicated – especially with some of the news reports one hears about bullying in American high schools and on cyberspace. 

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