Week 10: Digital Inequalities

In the modern era of digitally oriented and technology dependent world, issues about digital inequalities are becoming more common than ever. I believe digital inequalities are a real concern in online world. Inequalities such as prejudice, racism and intolerance are usually associated with offline world issues however, they are now resonated in online social media platforms as well. (Boyd, D. 2014. pp: 159). Boyd, by giving examples, explains how racism, hatred and distrust are spread through social media websites like Twitter hash-tags, Facebook comments and other communication tools. There are so many instances supporting the argument about digital inequalities and one is cyber-bullying.
Racist comments, gender, cultural and sexual stereotypes all are documented examples of teenagers committing suicide or becoming socially awkward and introvert for the rest of their lives. Ryan’s story illustrates “how technology was…used as [a] weapon far more effective and reaching [than] the simple ones we had as kids” (1). Previous quote is a comment from Ryan’s father after Ryan’s suicide being a victim of sexual stereotyping (1). Boyd also gives an example from 2009 Black Entertainment Television Awards which caused black artists like Beyonce, Jamie Foxx and Ne-Yo to appear on Twitter’s ‘trending topics’. Due to this, some people made unsuitable and racist comments initiating a hash-tag fight between racist and anti-racist groups (Boyd, D. 2014. pp: 161). Therefore, social media platforms extend beyond their intended use of communication. They are also used in many negative ways comprising of digital inequalities.
In an online class format different students participate from all over the world. In my opinion, online classes can prove to be a less better form of learning than a traditional in-class format in the context of digital inequalities. Not knowing an individual and inability to talk to them face-to-face allows racist, stereotypical comment without any hesitation. Also, in many online courses quizzes are to be taken by students during some specified hours and it is instructed to not use any study aids while attempting the quiz. It is obvious that there would be some students, if not a lot, to use lecture notes or internet to help them do the test/quiz. Additionally, women are more involved in household chores and child-rearing responsibilities, they tend to consume less time on internet. Therefore, it may be implied that when it comes to taking an online class, they would have a difficult time managing all their responsibilities to find necessary time to be involved in an online class. (Hargittai, E. 2010. pp: 95). The above mentioned points highlight an unequal perspective of online classes. Furthermore, since individuals may be residing in different parts of the world, they might not having access to internet all the time leading them to miss a particular seminar/lecture that was supposed to take place at a particular time. Anonymity is a double-edged sword in the context of online classes. Favorable consequences of anonymity include individuals contributing to open discussions without hesitation which might not take place if discussion was initiated in-person/seminar. It also gives individuals a chance to participate who maybe shy to do so in front of many people. On the other hand, unfavorable repercussions of anonymity involve a lack of hesitation when it comes to post a racist/stereotypical comment making other person a victim of cyber-bullying. Such comments would be less likely to happen in a traditional in-class based format. Therefore, online classes have a potential to generate inequalities both due to the access of internet or not and also due to the cyber-bullying.
Reference:
1. “Six Unforgettable Cyber bullying Cases” (n.d) http://nobullying.com/six-unforgettable-cyber-bullying-cases/

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