The media would love to have the public believe that the internet is only used for shopping, entertainment and for socializing at sites that are heavily populated with references to consumption of products, services and goods. Business principles now include the goals of actually manipulating the public perceptions of reality through social networking sites, which is a very scary proposition.
If a corporation is having image and public perception problems, for example, that corporation can give a complete, but factually unsupported and untrue perception that it is making great strides to fix its problems. People who read or pass this stuff of dreams on will actually believe it. They will believe that a corporation is going “green” when it actually stays right at the bottom of green accomplishments in comparison with their counterparts.
It is clear that the internet is the major source of beliefs that the President was not born in the US and is a muslim. The sooner that British Petroleum can convince internet users that they are paying people and cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico, the sooner people will forget about the spill and move on to other issues, only to be shocked briefly a year from now when the continuing damage and refusal to pay is briefly discussed in a news report or television show.
In this sense, it is better for those who do not have access to the internet. The internet “have nots” will be free to manage their own perceptions of reality.
The internet impedes outside of its realm. As the “haves” pick up rumors, information of all levels of quality and gossip online, they talk about it and they spread it by word of mouth and in face to face verbal discussions. Television, radio, talk radio, newspapers and magazines pick up on internet content and publish it, making those sources as powerful as they ever were for disseminating information.
In this sense, a person who has little or no internet access can get filtered, fact checked and curated versions of the most popular or most important web content from print, radio and television services, including shows and journals that summarize the top web content for the day or week.
For shopping, when a person wants or needs something, they will browse the real world local stores, coupons, discount outlets and thrift shops and will find bargains on the necessities of life that rival those at E-Bay or at online versions of shopping sites. Local markets now price competively with on line sources and will advertise through mail and local newspaper print ads to let people know where the bargains are.
In this sense, there is plenty of real world information and communication. There are highly competitive markets and catalogs to keep people happy without ever engaging in online shopping or other transactions.
For socializing and social networking, there is the telephone, whether it is land line or cellular. People who feel that they have no use for the internet, whatsoever, are very good at verbalizing, writing letters, printing out and mailing photos and visiting or meeting in person.
In this sense, the internet has become as vast a wasteland as television has become. This is why there are desperate and massive moves to allow people to filter and to curate content that makes sense to them and to help them to express, communicate and to meet people who are as palatable as their real world contacts.
For many of our functions in life, all of us are internet “haves”, whether we are aware of it or not. Our medical records, school records, government records, banking, finance, credit and much of our work related material is on the internet anyway. Much of our medical care involves some form of internet activity. The law enforcement agencies that keep us safe use the internet in order to respond to our needs if we need them.
In this sense, we can be “haves” even if we are unaware of it. But those who are “have nots” actually have perfectly fine alternatives to the internet that work very well for them. This is because not every one is a high powered social, business or financial entity who needs comprehensive and real time connectivity with the global world.
As far as social stratification, the “have nots” will be better at forming their own perceptions of reality, will get what it is that they need through print, phone conversation, in person conversation, print and broadcast sources. They probably develop much better on-the-spot verbal acuity while suffering in typewritten communication. Also, they will probably need to use more public transportation or walk to their destinations to get goods, services and information, making them more physically, emotionally and mentally able to interact with the real world of nature, people and situations.
In summary, as long as we do not confuse having a good set of computer management skills with having access to the shallow web, having little or no access to the internet may not be a bad thing!