The Internet is Not a Utility but …

Our ancestors did not need electricity. A large tract of human history took place without technology. People are still able to live entirely without technology in certain parts of the world. Technology is not necessary to live and you do not even need a refrigerator. The idea is being put forward that the Internet is a Utility. I do not like the idea, but I find myself supporting the idea based on life experience.

Except in modernized societies, structured a certain way, some things that are not true necessities to live in the absolute sense are necessities within the context of those societies. That describes part of the situation in U.S. American society as of 2015. An environment in which, in many cases today, you cannot get a job, pay bills, or engage with government if you do not have a way to get on the Internet. Often, you must do so using some computerized device (tablet, laptop, phone, watch and whatever comes later).

The society itself makes computers and the Internet mandatory to live. I know because two years after the Great Recession, as someone with extensive computer technology skills, I had to exist without a computer. Without it, I found it much harder to get another job. The lack of a computer was not the cause of my homelessness. Not having one, regardless of my personal grit to survive, did make my homeless days much harder to endure in terms of signs of hope.

I spent all my savings renting computer time at FedEx office trying to find another job. I lost 90% of my savings only to find another job at the very end. Got a very cheap computer a few months later. It did not last long but it was enough to help me work on new skills during tough times. After things had smoothed out and I had a much better computer, I accomplished much more. The better computer was core to my ability quickly and decisively communicate with others during a time I desperately needed another job after having just lost one.

Part of my wanderings began after my time as a contract employee at a major U.S. telecom provider. They allowed my employment term to lapse without advanced notice. I lost everything. Struggled with little reprieve since.

Things were going well with the new job that after a few months I started saving up for an even better computer. Did not see job loss on the horizon so I threw the computer away as I had reached a point where I didn’t think I needed one so soon. Then, multiple financial issues struck me about a month or so later. Fortunately, I had a cheap flip phone and it was all I could do to make verbal arrangements to resettle with relatives during another patch of hard times.

In all those situations, a computer was a mandatory tool. No paper applications were offered for employment. No classified ads in a newspaper. I did try those approaches with no success. A major part of the progress I made in some of those situations happened with the use of a computer. The structure of the society made it mandatory. It was a very hard lesson to learn that you never want to be without a computer and Internet access as a functioning participant in the U.S. American society. A digital diet is not really something entire classes of people like myself can afford.

Always keep your computer never to switch until you have a new one in hand. I do not like the idea of the Internet as a utility. We can lose much in its regulation and yet the free market has shown less progress in terms of availability, affordability, and freedom of choice. No, life experience shows that, in practice, the Internet does works like a utility.


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