Saying you don’t need the internet or a computer, in today’s world, is akin to saying in the 70s and 80s, “I don’t really need a telephone” or “Electricity is something we can do without.” And while many people have made a life in rural areas without a phone or electricity well into the days where these things were the norm, these things are now staples in many homes and became staples. Yet, today, being connected with news, learning opportunities, job search tools, entertainment, and so much more is easier than it has ever been for most people but there are still those that struggle with using the tools available to them.
Using a computer for someone that has gone decades without doing so is not always an easy task and this is understandable. Folks who are learning but “teaching” other novices, like their friends, tend to create a blind-leading-the-blind environment, so this is why many local libraries are offering help when it comes to using a desktop or laptop computer. While pretty much all libraries have computers for the public to use, there are people that have no idea how to use them, so this is where library staff and volunteers become so very valuable.
Depending on where you live, some libraries may have classes that will help you understand the basics of using a computer by starting at the point of how to turn on the machine. However, if this isn’t available in your area, suggest that such a class be hosted. I think you’ll be surprised at how many people could benefit if a local library, for instance, offers a basics class on computers. Community colleges are also a great resources for these types of opportunities so don’t hesitate to take advantages of these resources or request they be made available.
However, it’s vital to rural development and growth, especially in places like our beautiful mountains in Western North Carolina, that quality, reliable internet be easily made available. In some areas there is simply no internet options while others are paying outrageous prices for connectivity options that are barely a step above dial-up speeds. Denying students, young people, adults, and even the elderly access to what could be life-changing services is a travesty but this change has to come at a county/town level.
While it’s hoped that better internet is coming to the west, it’s important to become educated on how computers and the internet work so look to your local library and staff to see what’s available in your area.