The internet is everywhere and it's not

Last month, I went to Pakistan for about a week. The trip was for my dad’s 1 year death anniversary, there were some religious things that were expected to be done and I also went to support my mom and family. During this trip, I came to a realization that we are surrounded by technology in the US and all other developed countries but this is not case for a place like Pakistan. Especially the village where my parents are from. It’s far away and remote enough that cloudy weather will make it hard to get basic websites.

The country has improved a lot over the last 2 decades in terms of electricity availability and internet coverage but the people still live with the understanding that the internet is occasional WhatsApp messages and Facebook timeline updates, not a place to connect in real time or stream high quality media.

Going from a mid-size city like Portland where the power is on 99.9% of the time and the internet basically never goes out (if my ISP is down, my cell coverage is good enough for daily activities) to a rural village really disconnects you from the internet. You can’t just expect to do remote work from that far away. You can’t browse Reddit or Instagram for fun, everything takes minutes to load.

After a quick Google search, I was able to see that about 4.9 billion people are connected to the internet. I think this number is inflated, “connected” doesn’t mean the same thing since connections can be spotty and I would wager most people in Pakistan are “mildly connected” to the internet, not wired in unless they’re in big cities.

Pakistan has a low literacy rate, at around 60%. This affects how people interact with technology and most are just unable to read/comprehend what’s happening on their phone.

I hope to write more about my other experiences in Pakistan and also in Japan but I wanted to start with this as it was on my mind.