Elon Musk’s “Hyperloop” plans may end up being irrelevant just as freshman Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) faux filibuster will ultimately not change “Obamacare,” no matter how many hours he reads “Green Eggs and Ham”—it’s irrelevant. The Internet, however, is not irrelevant. In fact, it may be the most relevant addition to our lives in the last twenty years. However, a recent Pew study shows that five percent of Americans believe the Internet is irrelevant, and that 15 percent of Americans remain offline. I can’t help but think that a large percentage of the former group has no idea what the word “irrelevant” means, just as that little Sicilian in The Princess Bride clearly had no grasp of what the definition of “inconceivable” was.
Five percent of Americans believe the ‘Internet is irrelevant’
Given this disdain for the Internet and its label of “irrelevant,” it does beg the question how Pew was able to contact these people. Telegraph, carrier pigeon, tin cans connected by string? Certainly, the telephone must remain irrelevant to this same group.
The 15 percent of Americans have both good and bad reasons for remaining offline. Quite simply, the Internet is too expensive, it’s inaccessible in their area, or it’s too complicated for nearly 40 million Americans.
While TechCrunch has some great charts and graphs that illustrate the “offline” demography, a few observations are as plain as day when it comes to understanding that 15 percent of Americans remain offline.
About half (49 percent) of these offliners qualify for Medicare. 20 percent are from rural areas, and 41 percent have no high school diploma. One would assume that the nation’s growing prison population wasn’t surveyed.
In fact, and harkening back to former Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, horrible statements about his hiring policies come to mind. Those with the least chance of reading this piece are Latinos over the age of 65 who dropped out of high school, make under $30,000 a year and live in rural areas.
Internet as “a waste of time”
Essentially, those who did the jobs that Americans didn’t want, but who still complain about their presence in ‘Merica.
Of the group that described the Internet as “a waste of time” or “irrelevant,” 44 percent admitted that it was still relevant enough to ask someone who was connected to “do something” for them online.