The Digital Enlightenment Has Begun, You Just Don’t See it.

When Tim Berners-Lee first “invented” the internet, he foresaw its primary use as an avenue for the rapid and worldwide spread of information. And since its inception, the internet has primarily fulfilled this goal, serving as a medium for thousands of professors, writers, bloggers, and journalists to share their work with the world. Perhaps the most powerful (in terms of potential for societal disruption, that is) trait of the internet spreads from this: the democratization of higher learning. Almost all of the largest universities and colleges, both private and public, offer online learning programs for interested students, most of the time doing so free of charge. What makes this so powerful is potential for the spread of higher education to those who would not typically be able to access it. The internet enables people like minorities, who might not typically be able to afford a college education to access all the benefits of one, eliminating a massive roadblock to their culture’s advancement in society. There’s just one problem: time. While these courses are mainly free of charge, they still require massive amounts of time and dedication to complete and fully absorb the wisdom they entail. For a while, this expense of time has served as a barrier that in the place of price for people like minorities, who wouldn’t typically have the time to dedicate themselves to these courses, and thus, would be unable to partake in them. But now, with the current crisis facing the world, we, as a race, have more free time than ever before, and the same way the internet was able to eliminate the cost barriers for people to access these aforementioned courses, the Covid-19 situation has, if indirectly, eliminated the barrier of time commitment. And this elimination of the final barrier in the democratization of higher education is the spark to the fire that is the new digital enlightenment. I foresee a large number of previously oppressed people taking advantage of their newfound wealth of time and spending it on taking advantage of what these wonderful courses have to offer, many of which serving as paths to new careers. Furthermore, I believe that, through taking advantage of these courses, these oppressed peoples will be able to socially advance to a far greater degree than ever before, with their well established girt and determination for success in combination with their newly acquired valuable career knowledge opening doors that were previously closed to them, finally allowing them to achieve self enlightenment. This internet-enabled digital enlightenment, while not immediately visible now in this clouded time of conflict and distress, will be felt for decades to come, with previously oppressed people using what the world has given to them to socially advance and make everyone’s lives better. So, the digital enlightenment has begun, and though you may not be able to see it now, you certainly will be able to in the future.

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