I knew I loved Estonia. I recently read an article in The Economist about how this country has become a leader in technology. There are two sentences within the piece that echo a sentiment that I have believed to be true for some time, ‘In 2000, when the government declared internet access to be a human right, the web spread into the boondocks. Free Wi-Fi became commonplace.’ Can I get an Amen?
Whilst exploring parts of Europe with my family this summer, I was infuriated many times at the lack of free internet. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to chat with my friends (although that was part of it), a larger issue for me is how much I depend on the internet. Think about how much is online: banking, emailing, chatting, learning, music, language, finding needed information, sharing information, etc.
When people say that they remember a time when a phone call was enough. It’s not anymore; that is the reality. And with more and more big businesses, who are usually in league with governments, controlling the news, social media has become an essential part of the communication process. Granted, it’s not alway accurate, but many times it is and is has the power to present different perspectives. The most recent example that comes to mind was what happened in my own neighborhood. The major news outlet here was showing a documentary on penguins while the heart of my adopted city literally burned.
The internet has the power to be a great equalizer. If everyone had safe, free access, think of how people could help themselves. Get an education, figure out how to fix something, and just generally enrich their lives? Think about how much you use the internet. When countries begin to try to control the internet and thus, control information and freedom of speech, I get nervous and angry. Internet access is a human right.
If you think I am being a bit dramatic, that’s okay. But try to go a week without internet, work time included. Try to go three days. Of course it can be done and it’s important to unplug. Happiness is not internet access. But disconnecting is different than never having access. It is my belief that everyone should have that choice.
Link to article: http://econ.st/18RLh1d
Photos of Estonia: