I recently read an article about Americans that don’t use the internet, and it was essentially what you would expect, primarily rural and older people. I wonder if Americans ever give any thought to people that simply can’t use the internet, because it doesn’t exist.
There is a misconception about Cuba and the internet amongst many people I meet. If a Cuban is fortunate enough to have money they have a cell phone and some are lucky enough to have a tablet, but that is not the norm.
The real point is that these devices are used for nothing more than phone calls, photo storage and game playing, since, for all intents and purposes there is no internet in Cuba.
Yes there is an intranet, Cubans can Skype with each other, but they can not look up information on Google or order items from Amazon.
Universities have limited internet, and the “ politically well connected” have access, but censorship is very strong, and service is intentionally kept ridiculously slow.
While one can spend hours discussing how that limits freedom of information, to me it presents completely different considerations.
Corporations, governments and people expect you to be connected. So many items today simply can no longer be accomplished without an internet connection.
I took a Notebook to my family in Cuba because they are cheap and and could hold a program I wanted for their education. However, notebooks are cheap because everything is held in the cloud, but what if the cloud doesn’t exist?
There are so many companies in the US that no longer have humans to deal with simple items like customer service. It is the norm to handle all your problems via a device, and yet, what if you don’t have a device?
I am one of the most connected people I know, and yet I wonder how we came to this point where human contact is abhored by corporations and when you attempt to solve a problem you are given a website address with the assumption that that solves the problem.
All of this is brought home to me when I head back to Cuba and try to explain to people that I truly, truly am disconnected from the moment the plane leaves Miami to the moment I return.
While in Cuba I carry an old fashioned notepad and a pen to write down everything that I need to remember.
I hold all my shopping lists, family members wish lists and all of the items I need for my stories in this little pink notepad that is as much a trademark of mine in Cuba as my Italian laced Spanish or my ever present Buddhist prayer beads.
I watch in fascination as the world, and especially my home town of San Francisco is so wired that even their front doors and lights are controlled by wi-fi or bluetooth without a thought to the fact that in other parts of the world they have no concept of these items.
When Cuba opens and American corporations begin to move into the business world of Cuba, how are they going to cope?