There was a time in America when you could make the case that internet access was a luxury. That time has since passed. Based on how much of modern life is driven by the internet and digital communication, access is very much a necessity.
As this post is being written, a severe thunderstorm is blowing through the area. My lights have flickered several times in the last 10 minutes. My internet temporarily went out. If either fails for a long time, this post may not be submitted prior to its deadline.
I don’t expect that to be a problem, but there are no guarantees. Two hundred miles southwest of where I live, entire communities are still left without power and internet compliments of Hurricane Ian. If I lived in Southwest Florida, I would have to move somewhere else temporarily just so that I could work.
Work Is Just the Beginning
Work is just the beginning of our collective dependence on the internet. Even so, it is a very impressive beginning. Think about your own job. How much of what your company does is done online? How much of the information you deal with on a daily basis is transmitted by way of the internet?
Companies buy and sell online. Digital online marketing has left traditional marketing in the dust. Retail is largely online as well. No matter where you go, the internet plays a vital role in how human beings do what they do.
Healthcare and the Internet
The internet is also very influential in healthcare delivery. Did you make use of telemedicine during the COVID pandemic? If so, there you go. But even if not, you can probably access your doctor’s office or your medical records online. You can schedule appointments and tests online.
When your GP contacts the lab to get the results from your recent tests, guess how that information is passed along? It is done online. When the cardiologist, oncologist, and internist share patient records in order to maintain continuity of care, all of that sharing happens digitally.
Getting Online Means Getting Access
Here is what it boils down to: getting online means getting access to everything from banking and retail to entertainment and education. Those who cannot get online do not have the same access as those who can.
Kids in rural America discovered this during the COVID pandemic. They could not take advantage of the same educational opportunities as their city and suburban counterparts because many of them didn’t have reliable internet access at home. Countless reports published at the time discussed children doing their school work from the local Walmart parking lot.
Fortunately, companies like Houston-based Blazing Hog now offer rural Internet access by way of 4G networks. Newer 5G service is starting to spread across the country as well. And of course, satellite internet is available. But not every service provider offers service everywhere. So there are still people who don’t have access.
Living Without Isn’t Easy
The world relies so much on the internet that living without it isn’t easy. It is not impossible, but it’s as difficult as living without a car where you don’t have access to public transportation.
Few of us would consider cars a luxury in the modern era. We could surely live without them. We could go back to horses and carriages but doing so would mean falling behind people who kept their cars. Internet access is very much the same thing.
The world has become so internet dependent that functioning without it means falling behind. That makes internet access a necessity rather than a luxury.