Are We Segregating Ourselves?


March 3, 2004


Argumentative-Rough Draft

In the past ten years the internet has opened up a world one could have never imagined. It has made the inconvenience of everyday life convenient, especially for the physically handicapped, remotely secluded, and those with hectic schedules. People can do just about anything on the internet today. However there are some people who believe that the internet, especially E-Commerce (internet shopping) is eroding personal communication, personal interaction and redefining our sense of community. I believe personal communication is served second to ease and convenience.

Consumers with disabilities, frenzied schedules or who live in remote locations can not always easily overcome the struggle of crowded streets and stores, needless time consumption, or driving great distances to retrieve needed items. Furthermore we pay higher prices, and wait several days to receive information, presentations, or important documents from the postal service. We also pay telephone companies outrageous amounts of money for long distance phone calls, and wait in long lines at our financial institutions for mere seconds of banking business. Additionally we spend several hours a week in driving time to pay our bills or spend needless time and money mailing checks.

I understand the need for the internet and E-Commerce for people in remote or underdeveloped locations, because I grew up in a small town in the Midwest, a town without vast resources for clothing, electronics, sports equipment, or a bookstore. Without these types of retail stores it was extremely complicated to just drive down the street when something was needed. It seemed on these occasions it was an all-day adventure driving thirty miles to the nearest Wal-Mart or Circuit City, and if you were looking to get a reasonable or competitive price, the drive was two and a half hours to Jefferson City. After driving forty-five minutes to a store location we would circle incessantly looking for a parking spot. We would then spend several hours walking through the store looking for what was wanted or needed, and then stand in a crowded checkout line waiting for the clerk to ring up our items. Once we were finished in one store we would then have to load up bags and boxes and drive through the overcrowded streets to the next store on the list just to start the process all over again. This type of time consuming journey and money wasting excursion is just one of the reasons E-Commerce was invented, and is becoming the preferred way to shop.

People with physical and/or mental disabilities or their caretakers can overcome the struggle of shopping by using the internet and E-Commerce. They can now effectively dive into an immense range and selection of merchandise, effortlessly compare prices, and quickly shop several stores without having to deal with the inconveniences of driving, walking or riding, and without ever leaving the comfort of their own home.

As a full-time student, and a new father with a fiancé who is also a full-time student, there never seems to be enough hours in a day to get things done in an appropriate time frame. Brayden (our 10 month old son) who always comes first and is always in need of, among other things clothing, toys, shoes, formula, diapers, and food, this consumes a majority of our time and money. In addition to his needs Brianne and I have our material needs as well, and with everything else in our demanding day it is not always easy to fit shopping at local retailers into the mix nor is it monetarily as efficient. This is why we do a lot of our material shopping at home. We spend a fraction of our needed time in front of a computer monitor searching several stores for the best price, thus spending half the time it would take in one local store.

In the United States communication to friends and family living long distances away still relies heavily on the postal service and telephone companies. We are paying higher prices, and waiting days (sometimes weeks) to receive these packages, presentations, or important documents from the postal service. We can have these services almost instantaneously through electronic mail (e-mail). These communication avenues are more expensive and take more time (Sager 14). Any form of