FAQ: “How are you on the Internet if you’re so poor?”

FAQ: “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. There’s also a problem for rural folks who may not have transportation to libraries.

How do people afford computers,tablets, and iphones? How can they afford the Internet?
Here’s a 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. The ipod I’m using right now was bartered for. I paid two pairs of pants and a lovely linen dress for it.

The reasons someone might have electronic devices when they’re poor doesn’t really even matter. Technology is not a luxury anymore, it’s a necessity. For low income people, not having that accessibility reduces opportunity and resources. Technology is precious when you’re poor, more precious than the small amount of money you could resell a device for to pay maybe pay a bill. It makes no sense to sell vital electronics when you’re struggling financially.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. Job searching right now sometimes means going in person to a place of business to ask if they’re hiring only to be told to go online and fill out an application. It means having a resume online. It means needing to have a reliable email and a phone. Not having Internet access can be a huge obstacle that keeps people poor.

Academic success for low income kids is greatly tied to having an internet connection at home. Anyone who has helped a child with homework recently understands this completely. Schools that have successfully transitioned into the digital age rely on Google classroom and other tools like that to keep class materials,reading sources,worksheets, and assignments. If a student doesn’t have internet at home, their ability to do homework at hone is greatly hindered.

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 (there’s no cell phone service where I live so there’s not much point) 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 online businesses, both an important source of income right now. 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.

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 because they recognize the necessity

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 people who have money  choose to use their time on the Internet to be jerks to those who don’t. I think they’re greatly under-appreciating the value and privilege of what having access to the Internet means.

Open discussion about this post  here.

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16 thoughts on “FAQ: “How are you on the Internet if you’re so poor?”

  1. I pick up some extra work in a library and we are seeing a lot of people coming to use the computers because e-mailing a CV or filling in an online application is the only method a company will accept. That’s for warehouse pickers or cleaning jobs, not even well-paying or demanding frequent computer use when doing the job.

  2. Reblogged this on Love, Laugh, Eat, Write and commented:
    Poor as Folk is one of my favorite blogs. This is a great post addressing one of the ridiculous questions people of low income get. It seems ridiculous to me that anyone has to justify any of their spending decisions, yet it is often the case. To have to justify having internet and/or a device that connects to the internet in this highly technological age just baffles me! So many people, including myself, use their computers and internet to work from home, that doesn’t mean we get paid loads and loads. The internet is also the main way these days to job hunt and find resources to help “poor folk” live a little better.

    Click the link and read the post, it’s great!

  3. When my brother up-dates his business computers he gives me an old one. We are connected to the internet because when my husband became disabled three years ago I went back to school at 57 years old. I’m not giving it up because at 15 dollars a month it’s one of life’s cheap pleasures.

    1. Seriously, you cant even go to the movies for $15/month! I [heart] my Internet hardcore.
      How awesome for going back to school.I have 2 more years until my littlest is in school full time and then I can’t wait to do that,too.Good luck!

  4. Just like any group, there are always those in the minority who are abusing something or making a bad name for the whole lot. There is a lot of system abuse by not only the poor, but more well-off folks as well, such as jobbing the unemployment system or disability system. For whatever reason, the poor get a worse rap than the others. I’d guess some of that is race related as the perception is that most of the US poor are blacks, even though that’s numerically inaccurate. Kudos to you on this blog. It’s good to inform the masses, especially from the perspective of a person who knows first hand.

  5. Pingback: Anonymous
  6. I have an old iPhone that I paid off before The Accident. I have Straight Talk phone service and that’s my only source of Internet. Except after this service period runs out I won’t be refilling it because I can’t even afford that anymore. We finally got a ticket for having expired tags and I don’t know how we’re going to pay that fine. Not being able to afford to be legal sucks. Our food stamps refilled today (130-something for five people for the month). Wish us luck! :/

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