The tech industry has become a necessary evil in modern society, but was it intended to be that way? Web 2.0 was set in motion with the intention of democratizing tech, and even though mega-conglomerates have stepped in to corner any possible market a person anywhere on earth can think of, the people are still able to find ways to make things free – or generally more accessible.
Whether alternative information groups build their own social media platforms or tech developers launch open-source apps that parallel high-level premium apps, the world wide web is still a wild west of sorts. The rebellious spirit of the internet still thrives, but at what cost?
Automation and globalization have created the illusion that world elites are intentionally seeking to eliminate the middle class. A 2013 study published by Oxford University found that 47% of employment in the United States is at risk of automation. The Economic Policy Institute found that globalization has lowered wages for American workers. Is the seismic shift in the modern world truly a diabolical conspiracy or the unintended consequence of innovation?
With technology evolving at break-neck speeds, the freemium nature of the app world makes freedom of work easier to access for most people with low incomes. This sounds like a God send on the surface, but as skilled workers use freemium software to pivot into influencer-based-careers, middle-class knowledge work such as graphic design, web design, digital marketing, public relations writing, human resources, and more are shipped overseas or replaced by automation. The inconsistent nature of influencer culture and entrepreneurship, which were catalyzed en masse during the COID-19 pandemic, leads to inconsistent incomes that expand the lower middle and lower classes.
Unless an influencer finds massive success, the new entrepreneur remains in the lower-to-lower middle class while elite tech companies join the defense contracting and mega-corporation world, deepening the class divide.
It seems as if the blessing that tech was supposed to unleash upon the world has become a curse, and the public is clamoring for answers as to why dreams aren’t coming true the way Instagram rakes in ad dollars for making success look.
Technologies should serve as tools to spread wealth or, at least, help the masses grow and gain wealth on their own, and in many ways, that goal has been achieved. However, as Silicon Valley continues to contribute to the wealth gap and the global elite show confusion and apathy, the truth of the matter will be that technology has, in fact, widened the wealth gap instead of closing it.
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