Some thoughts on living in poverty and technology

I was live tweeting this morning while watching the Melissa Harris Perry show and there was a segment about obesity and poverty. A Dr. was also tweeting and said something along the lines of how people living in poverty should give up their phones or computers because they weren’t “investing in themselves”.  I disagree and here’s why:

 I am poor. I receive about 800$ a month in child support and then do various freelance jobs. I don’t get SNAP or SSI or student loans. I paid cash for my one and three quarters college degrees and until my divorce I lived a middle class life. I don’t have a car, my computer is about seven years old and missing keys. I have thousands in medical debt as I have been ill for years with out health insurance and my bad credit makes it difficult to be considered for conventional jobs in today’s market.  I freely admit I made more than a few mistakes that led to my current circumstances and I am working hard to pull myself out of them. I am not lazy or a victim…except maybe of bad timing. My divorce happened just as my illness was really taking off and I didn’t fight hard enough to make sure my future was taken care of and then the financial collapse of 08 happened. Honestly, I didn’t know it would suddenly become so hard to find even the most basic of jobs.  So my life fell through the cracks. You are going to hear the same story from millions of other Americans who were doing fine until 08 and then their lives fell apart as well. We are struggling, but doing what we can to put our lives back together without the bailouts that Wall Street and the banks benefited from.

With as little as I have to live on, one thing I always try to make sure to have is access to is today’s technology and the internet. So do many others in my circumstances. Because we understand that without that access…we are completely sunk. Phones and computers are our way out of our current circumstances. Today’s technology allows us to stay current on employment trends, start our own small businesses, get educations and just stay connected in a world where no one looks you in the eyes anymore. Pretty much every job requires you to go a website to fill out applications or send resumes. Classified sections in paper newspapers are very thin. Phones are basically free and if you do like I do and have no contract service, then you are paying maybe thirty a month for service that allows you to stay connected to the world. Less than a bus pass.

As I was falling into my abyss, it wasn’t my wealthy friends that helped me.  They all turned their backs, including a few who still owe me large amounts of money. It was my friends with the least who gave me the most. The friend whose circumstances are just as strained who gave me a couch to stay on when I needed it. Another who was an ear as I was terrified about what would happen to me and whether I would end up homeless. My ex husband makes over one hundred fifty thousand a year but his new wife controls the purse strings so he doesn’t help beyond what the court legally obliges him to. But he takes care of our child so I don’t complain too often. Falling this far down has, while terrifying, been beneficial in some ways. I learned that I am stronger and more resourceful than I ever dreamed. I know this situation is temporary because I am a creative and determined out of the box thinker who has always had a knack for turning adversity into success and this too shall pass. But man, it really pisses me off when people look down on the poor for having something as simple as a phone while they have no idea of  or empathy for the struggles millions of Americans are going through today.  So to that Dr., you better hope you don’t fall off your pedestal because your wealthy friends will turn on you just as fast as mine did on me and it might just be one of those patients currently living in poverty you sneered at who reaches out that hand to lift you back up again.

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