Archive for Sunday, June 17, 2012

Digital divide: Not everyone views Internet, smartphones as advances

Viola and Truly Ernest Schlup, foreground, who live near Baldwin City, will take cards over computers any day.

Viola and Truly Ernest Schlup, foreground, who live near Baldwin City, will take cards over computers any day.

June 17, 2012


In 1812, a group of English textile workers known as Luddites destroyed new labor-saving equipment that threatened their livelihoods.

Two hundred years later, the term “Luddite” survives, with a broader definition as a person opposed to technological changes — such as the Internet.

Tom Steele, Basehor, says he’d rather spend his time on his Harley or with grandkids than frittering it away on the Internet.

Tom Steele, Basehor, says he’d rather spend his time on his Harley or with grandkids than frittering it away on the Internet.

According to, only 21 percent of the North American population does not use the Internet — meaning no email or Facebook, no Skyping or Web surfing. Statistics for northeast Kansas were not available. But a search using old-fashioned means identified a few residents of the region doing without modern communication advances for reasons ranging from financial to philosophical.

Tom Steele, 67, of Basehor said he steers clear of the Internet because of concerns over privacy and his own temperament.

“I go to the library once in a while and fiddle on their computer,” the retired grocery hauler said. “If I get mad there, I won’t tear it up. But if I had a laptop at home, I’d probably throw it.”

During one brief period after an employer stopped mailing pay stubs, Steele recalled, he began using a computer at work to access payroll data.

“You had to change your password every 30 days, and the third time you hit the wrong button, it would kick you out,” he said. “I finally said, ‘Heck with it, I’ll go to the bank for the information.’”

But even if computers were hassle-free, Steele would have little use for them.

“As far as people paying their bills by Internet, that’s about the dumbest thing going,” he said. “Someone got hold of my wife’s Social Security number, and we ended up having to put a credit lock on.”

Being able to see his grandkids live on Skype would be “cool,” Steele acknowledged, adding that he could “see a whole world of advantageous things, like genealogy, you could look up on the computer.”

“But it just doesn’t fit my category,” he said. “My daughter and son-in-law use their smartphone to find out what restaurants are closest to them and how many calories are in this or that. I say, ‘Just go eat.’”

According to Steele, he has an “antique” cellphone, which doesn’t text or take photos. And he’s dreading the day the battery wears out, forcing him to upgrade.

“I just have no interest or patience for stuff like that,” Steele said. “I’d rather ride my motorcycle, work in the yard and spend time with my family.”

Andra Gonzalez, who lives at the Bluejacket Lodge Apartments in Shawnee, said she prefers to communicate the old-fashioned way: through letters, on a landline telephone or face to face.

While working on one of the 100 lap robes she donates each year, Gonzalez chatted recently with neighbor Cena Burge, who rued the fact she could no longer afford Internet service. Burge, a Christian Scientist, said she especially missed online church programs and the ability to look up things like recipes.

“If I need a recipe,” Gonzalez said, “I go to the library and find a cookbook.”

A retired nurse, Gonzalez used to use a computer in the clinic. But she doesn’t miss the learning curves associated with annual updates of the operating system — “It used to be called Windows,” she said.

Like Steele, Gonzalez also has security concerns. Her son’s bank account was tapped to the tune of several thousand dollars by a hacker, she said.

But Gonzalez’s main reason for remaining offline, she said, is that “there are better things to spend time and money on.”

Viola Schlup, who lives east of Baldwin City, said she hasn’t needed any innovations since marrying Truly Ernest Schlup and moving to a new home decades ago.

“We had a refrigerator, a black-and-white TV and an inside bathroom,” Viola said. “No, I take that back. I still had to beat a path (to the outhouse) until I got pregnant with our first child and we moved to a house with a bathroom.”

Truly Ernest, 83, and Viola, 71, don’t have the Internet or even cable or satellite dish for television reception.

“We get (channels) 4, 5 and 9, which is more than we need,” Viola said. “I do have a cellphone in case I go out and have a breakdown. But as far as the Internet, we don’t need it, don’t want it, not going to get it.”

The Schlups prefer to spend their free time playing cards, watching a little TV and playing with their Pomeranian, Tinkerbelle.

“My children all have the Internet, and I think it’s good for the right things,” Viola said. “But take all these men who think they’re talking to 14-year-olds who are actually talking to detectives. That destroys families.”

Michael Repp of Nieman Chiropractic in Shawnee uses the Internet in his business. But like older Luddites, Repp said he didn’t like the interpersonal direction of modern communication.

“I don’t tweet or Facebook, and I don’t have an iPhone,” Repp said. “I’m ‘so 29 seconds ago’ — which, by the way, is my least favorite commercial slogan.”


Bill_Slu 1 year, 9 months ago

"Twitters broke, my life has no meaning anymore," one user wrote on the social media website Tumblr.

Another wrote, "twitter is down and my life is over."


Pywacket 1 year, 10 months ago

The prevailing attitude here seems to be that people are slaves to their high-tech phones, which have destroyed civility and civilization as we knew it. Many of those scorning iPhones and androids are clutching the clunky receivers of their landlines and bragging that those tethered devices won't ever interrupt a movie or cause a car accident.

Do you people really think that everyone who has moved beyond 1985 is a "slave" to their cell phone and has chucked all courtesy and safety considerations? You notice the idiots who are talking or texting in traffic, wandering through the grocery store with their eyes glued to a little screen, or ignoring their lunch companions to text someone else.

What you apparently don't notice is that the rest of us see our cell phones as useful devices, rather than slave drivers. We turn them off while driving, shopping, attending live shows or movies, and eating dinner (in public or at home, with family). We check messages when it's safe, sensible, and convenient to do so--not every time the thing vibrates or makes a sound. Speaking of sound, for every idiotic loud ringtone you hear in public, there are dozens of phones, like mine, that are on silent mode.

In other words, there is a vast middle ground. At one end of the spectrum are those clinging to the past and inconveniencing themselves by NEVER getting a call or message unless at home. On the other end are those who are totally enslaved by technology, who compulsively look at a small screen every few seconds, and sacrifice face-to-face time with friends who are present by incessantly texting or calling someone who is not. The widest part of the spectrum--the middle--is occupied by those of us who own our phones rather than vice versa. It's great to know that if I drive to an unfamiliar area and get lost I can pull up a GPS and figure out where I'm going, without clawing through the glovebox looking for a dogeared map (maybe an outdated one). It's good to know that if my kids or husband need something while I'm out, they can text or call and I can pick it up for them, thus preventing an extra trip to town.

It may shock some of you, but many people are able to ENJOY newer technologies without having their lives utterly subverted by them. One can own a smart phone without the phone owning them. Why is this concept so difficult for some to understand? And how do you lofty purists justify dirtying your fingers on a computer keyboard instead of swearing your undying allegiance to that Underwood or Royal typewriter for which you've squirreled away dozens of ribbons for fear you won't be able to buy them much longer?


JJE007 1 year, 10 months ago

Big brother has reached into our hearts and stolen our minds. It's all good or not. Take my mind. Take my heart. Take me down your garden path and call me a long as you have no time to prosecute my indifference, independence and joy in sharing. Big brother has reached into our hearts and stolen our minds. It's all good or not. Take my take, Mind my heart. Take me down your garden path and call me your enemy. I will wend my way through your world and leave all dust blowing in your wind and winding into the whirlwind of your demise. You have released the monster... within your enslaving ineptitude. It's all good... or not. It's too late to care. It's to take us where


camper 1 year, 10 months ago

History might just rank the digital age with things like the industrial revolution. I believe the way we interact has changed at an enormous rate since the internet and cell phones were introduced. This is all good. I don't like eating dust, but I like to retain a certain amount of skepticism. Not all technology is as good as we want to believe. There could be future consequences. Technology is often a double edged sword.


pizzapete 1 year, 10 months ago

I'd like to see cell phones, etc. made illegal to use while driving, walking, or while in a public area like a restaurant or movie theatre. Half the young people I see driving or walking around today are focused on their phones and are oblivious to everything else around them. Save your electronic distractions for when you're at home where you cant hurt someone else. That phone call or text can wait.


grammaddy 1 year, 10 months ago

Love the internet! But I hate the smartphones. They are just another excuse for laziness. All day I watch kids running wild without any concept of manners or etiquette. Where's Mom? She's busy texting, facebooking, sexting or whatever and can't be bothered. Lay down the phone and raise your kids.


CWGOKU 1 year, 10 months ago

I love watching my kids text during dinner. It is a special warm moment, quality family time.


kawrivercrow 1 year, 10 months ago

This one got me...“But take all these men who think they’re talking to 14-year-olds who are actually talking to detectives. That destroys families.”

Sex predators need to be cleansed from the earth. If the internet did nothing else but provide this invaluable service, that alone would be worth the effort.

Needless to say, the predators were already destroying their own and others' families. Getting busted via technology was merely the highly-efficient tool used to facilitate their demise, not the cause of it.


Andini 1 year, 10 months ago

I always thought the internet was invented by the porn industry.


somedude20 1 year, 10 months ago

Brightside: Think about all the kiddos that took up playing with their phones rather than smoking.


Steve Jacob 1 year, 10 months ago

I embraced the internet early on, I love it, and even accepted Facebook. But smartphones are expensive energy hogs, I don't need access to everything 24/7.


camper 1 year, 10 months ago

I like iPhones. But I got it set up to where I can live without one. I am not co-dependent on this technology.

Just like automobiles. I like my car. But it is nice to walk or ride a bike to the store sometimes. I don't mind the folks whizzing past me.


labmonkey 1 year, 10 months ago

I graduated high school in the last era of students who did not have cell phones or internet. Sometimes I long to go back to those days where I feel I do not have to have a phone on me 24/7 and I cannot be found if I don't want to be. It was also nice to not feel like I had to check the internet everyday.

In reality, besides styles and slang, going to school was pretty much the same from the 50's to the late 90's. Parents could still pretty much relate to their kids while still being parents. You had to let them go at some point. Today with cell phones, internet, and social networking, kids are never truely let go in many cases and helicopter parenting has become rampant. That, along with 24/7 cable and entertainment news has dumbed us down, made us so we no longer mature as people, and as a whole, we have devolved.


alcoholbliss 1 year, 10 months ago

Pffff ! The iPhone isn't even a legitimate cure for cancer, just Google " Steve Jobs". Yet people act like these smartphones are some sort of essential LIFE SUPPORT. Complete bs.

If and when the government, and grid come crashing down please don't come to my primitive cave seeking my primitive fire, Mr. Dumbphone.


Bill_Slu 1 year, 10 months ago

Most people that rely on smart phones to help them make it through the day are sad people. They are not here and now, they are somewhere else concerned about what someone else is doing. Ever go out with a friend only to have their face buried in their hand unaware of the surroundings? Talk about life whizzing past you, but you probably didn't notice.


camper 1 year, 10 months ago

I have accepted filtration technology. Great on dust.


JackMcKee 1 year, 10 months ago

I couldn't live without my iPhone. But hey, some people like to live in caves and start fires by rubbing two sticks together. The rest of the world will just whiz right past you. I hope you enjoy the taste of our dust.


Steve Bunch 1 year, 10 months ago

My phone has the great Stay-at-Home app. It's a simple length of cable that holds it to the baseboard. I've never lost or misplaced that phone, it never goes off in theaters, and it's never diverted my attention from driving. I love it.


camper 1 year, 10 months ago

I reluctantly accept new technology. Just when I get comfortable in my cave sitting by my fire, someone from Apple throws something into my hut that I am going to have to figure out before I can relax and get comfortable again.


JackMcKee 1 year, 10 months ago

"get off my lawn"

"curse you cloud"

-anonymous old man

Great story, LJW


RETICENT_IRREVERENT 1 year, 10 months ago

I like the internet. I don't like TV or brussels sprouts, (aka commie cabbages).


The_Original_Bob 1 year, 10 months ago

"Do you use the internet?"

Asked of the person who posted on the internet.


pburg_girl 1 year, 10 months ago

I'm 29 years old - finally got Internet at home about 2 years ago, and, like Mr. Steele, I'm hoping my flip cellphone doesn't break so I don't have to upgrade. The new technology is fine and the advantages are obvious, but I think I'm going to hold out a few more years before I embrace it. I like being behind the curve and am rather proud of my 5-year-old, seemingly indestructible flip phone.


FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 10 months ago

Haven't even 'taught' the Menials the Margaret Sanger principles of reproduction. Now the 'Complex' want to give Menials more access to the "internet"?


Hooligan_016 1 year, 10 months ago

I appreciate the sentiment of this article, but was anyone interviewed under the age of say ... 35?


Michael Rowland 1 year, 10 months ago

The only people who are against new technology are those who are either afraid of it or can't figure out how to properly integrate it into their lives. The former is sad, the latter is understandable.


tange 1 year, 10 months ago

Finally got my Dick Tracy wristwatch, and, as it turns out, it's detecting me.


Gareth 1 year, 10 months ago

Typical cutting-edge "journalism" from the LJW.


Really. I'm stunned at this revelation.


classclown 1 year, 10 months ago

According to, only 21 percent of the North American population does not use the Internet


Only? I think 1 out of every 5 people is a rather significant amount.


Bill_Slu 1 year, 10 months ago

I have gotten rid of cable TV recently with the new price increases. I bought an antenna at b-buy for $80 and now get 24 channels (crystal clear) for free! Those commercials where cable companies are portrayed as thieves and pick pockets are eerily similar. When I was a kid we were one of the first people on the block with cable TV. It was $15 a month. The main reason for getting cable back then was better reception and no commercials. Now there are channels dedicated to nothing but commercials.

I also downgraded my phone to a Jitterbug (a few years ago) and I get 50 min a month for $14.95 / No contract. It does not take pictures or text, you just talk.


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