Tuesday, March 25, 2014

San Jose: Digital Divide

Featured on the San Jose Mercury News 
I volunteer every week at the The Third Street Community Center which is a place where people of all ages and backgrounds are actively engaged in enriching themselves and their community through education, arts, technology and service. Every first Friday of the month, the kids go on a field trip to the Tech Museum and I went to chaperone the kids for the first time! I brought along my DSLR camera to practice taking photos and I thought it would be fun to take pictures of some of the kids... and they loved it. I'm not sure if it was my camera or just kids being kids but they constantly begged me to take photos of them. They don't know where they will see the photos, where they're going to be posted, why I was even taking photos, but they were mesmerized by my camera. I had a strong relationship with one of the boys who will remain annoymous, but he wanted to be the model of the day. He  asked me, "Where can I see these photos?" I wasn't even sure myself what I was going to do with these photos but since his mom was one of the chaperones, I asked him if she had an email. 

"Mom, do you have an... email?" 

She gave him a blank stare with her eyes wide open. She looked once at her son, once at me, and once more at her son and then back at me. 

"No... sorry." She smiled, embarrassingly. 

I turn my head to him and he had a clueless face that spoke, "So what now?" 

I told them both that I would send these photos to the volunteer coordinator and the little boy screamed estatically and his mom formed a genuine smile. 

I've always knew these kids didn't come from the richest neighborhoods. These 1st and 3rd graders attended Horace Mann Elementary and wore navy polos and khaki jeans every time I saw them. But it really shocked me that she didn't have an email especially in our technology-driven generation. I know it's bad to assume but I'm going to do make some subjective conclusions.

She doesn't have an email so she probably doesn't work for any kind of company dealing with computers or technology. I'm not sure if she even works at all because she is chaperoning this field trip in the middle of a typical work day. Without an email, she probably doesn't have a Facebook or on any social media platforms. Without an email, she probably doesn't own an iPhone, a Macbook or anything technologically advanced, and maybe only have basic knowledge on how to use a computer. 

If these statements are true or false, these assumptions are all not bad things (if true)! I was just simply shocked because never have I asked someone for their email and they simply... didn't have one. It wasn't a, "I have an email but I never use it." or a "I forgot what it was, let me check my notebook and get back to you." This was an embarrassed, "No... I'm sorry." 

This is just another reminder on how blessed my life is (and hopefully your lives are too if you're reading this on a computer) that we simply have basic access to a computer and have social media platforms to communicate with. I hope I never take what I have for granted.

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  1. I love this post! It drew me in and just when I was sure where you were going, you explored a completely different avenue. Great work.