I thought I would start a new series here where I answer those Frequently Asked Questions posed to me here and other social media sites. This week, let’s start with ,“How are you on the Internet if you’re so poor?”
Related statements & follow up questions….
“How can you afford a computer/iphone/tablet?”
“Why don’t you sell your computer & cancel your Internet so you can pay your bills?
But if I don’t have Internet, how else will I annoy all these people who hate that I’m poor while on the Internet?
Oh. I could go to this one place in my town I know of. It’s a public building… lots of books. They also let people come in and use their computers with Internet access free of charge.They even teach people how to use both computers and the Internet. It’s called a library.
When The Homeless Guy started blogging, he used the library. There are quite a few people I have email conversations with because of this blog who I will go weeks without hearing from because the library is their only way to get on the Internet. There are also libraries in schools and college campuses. Contrary to what you may have heard, poor people spend time on college campuses. The huge negative to needing to use the library for computer time would be that it isn’t always open during non-work hours when working poor are not working.
How do people afford computers,tablets, and iphones? How can they afford the Internet?
Here’s a crazy thing about being poor. One minute you can have financial stability (or something close to it) and the next you don’t. Sometimes people have purchased their electronics before their financial woes. Or maybe (like my teenagers’ ipod touches that are often mistaken for iphones) they received them as a gift from a family member or friend. There are homeless people who have phones given to them by family and friends so that they can keep in touch and let people know they’re ok. Maybe they purchased them dirt cheap second hand on craigslist or a local marketplace. Maybe they’re a student and the electronics are a benefit from their school or college. Maybe they’re working poor and used their income tax return to buy it.
There are a lot of reasons someone might have electronic devices when they’re poor. If they have access to technology like that and in a situation where they have little else, the last thing they’re going to do is sell it. Honestly, it doesn’t economically make sense to sell your electronics. If I were to sell this laptop that I’m typing on right now, I could maybe get $150 for it . And where would that get me in the long term?
Technology is precious when you’re poor. If you’re unemployed and looking for a job, it’s nearly impossible right now to get a job without the Internet,email, or a phone. My oldest (adult) son is looking for a new job right now. He has gone in person to businesses only to be told that they require people to apply online. Some only accept resumes by email. If he gets a call back, he needs email or a phone number. He doesn’t currently live with us and doesn’t have a computer of his own, so he’s fortunate to be able to use mine or the library. Not having Internet access can be a huge obstacle that keeps people poor.
For those with mobile devices, there is free wifi in many public spaces for those who don’t have Internet at home.
For myself, my Internet is a relatively small expense in my budget. I don’t have a cellphone or cable, so I use the Internet in place of those things but besides that, I also need an Internet connection to conduct business for my Etsy shop & Ebay, both a tiny source of income for me right now but still…a source of income nonetheless. Besides the for -free -writing here on this blog, I also sometimes actually get paid to write stuff elsewhere. The Internet is a huge help to me in getting these freelance jobs. I’m not even sure how one does freelance anymore without the Internet.
Yes, my food stamp caseworker knows about it. Yes, that tiny bit of income is reported.
I also know low income people who have internet at home because they co-habitate with someone who pays for it…or someone else pays their bill for them.
There’s all sorts of scenarios that can explain why someone who doesn’t have money might have the mighty power to get on the Interwebs. It still remains a mystery why so many people who have money choose to use their own Internet privileges to be stupid jerks.
Open discussion about this post here.