Many of us can't even begin to comprehend life without the Internet—it's how we bring you this here article—yet roughly 20 percent of American adults don't use it. An astonishingly high figure, to be sure, made even more astonishing by the fact that the Internet today is so widely accessible, whether it's through a tablet, smartphone, laptop or desktop PC. And the disconnect isn't just shutting people off from the world of unlimited information, but also the possibility of landing a job.
According to Obama administration officials and policy experts, around 60 million Americans don't use the Internet, due largely to expenses required for access, lack of computer knowledge and more—and there could be lasting social and economic repercussions. A New York Times report highlights a number of older folks unable to grasp the sheer scope of what the Internet offers, and incapable of learning how to properly use a computer; officials are concerned "digital inequality" could deepen racial and economic disparities, which is an issue in of itself.
"As more tasks move online, it hollows out the offline options," said researcher John B. Horrigan. "A lot of employers don't accept offline job applications," which leads to a lot of persistent scenarios of isolation. Internet usage is reportedly lowest in the South—Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas in particular.
The Obama administration has invested millions in introducing people to the digital age, but many still remain offline, disconnected from the rest of the world. Most people 18 and older use the Internet, though only about half of people 65 and older are online. Many older folks that don't use the Internet cited lack of interest, claiming they're not missing out by not being online. Nearly every other person said the lack of Internet puts them at a big disadvantage, agreeing that they're not getting access to all the necessary information.
The Internet is so widely accessible it's incredible so many people remain offline. Many simply don't need it, or feel they already get what they need elsewhere. But others remain offline by other factors, even with libraries and other resources available. I know one person that never uses the Internet, which is due to lack of interest. But it seems there are a lot more people just like that in the U.S.