The digital revolution, and those left behind

It was often said, that Britain is a nation of Shopkeeper’s, that is until the industrial revolution morphed in to corporate monopolies, taking over everything from florists to butchers shops, and centralising them in to national chains, one a copy of the other. With this change, the British shopkeeper disappeared, giving way to high street clones, one the same as the other, city after city, town after town.

The industrial revolution brought jobs to the masses, and an education system designed to supply it with obedient workers, from miners to managers. The ones that stood outside of this, except for the usual military, academic, political and medical professions were our shopkeepers; the baker, butcher and green grocer. If one wanted to escape the industrial complex, the opportunity although admittedly slim, was there.

Skip ahead a few decades and we end up at the outcome of the industrial revolution; the birth of the hyper-consumer. In the early days of the industrial revolution, obedient workers were obedient because they wanted themselves and their family’s to just survive. With growing wealth this has changed from survival to consumption. Through the constant bombardment of mass media and advertising, our instinct for mere survival has become one of wanting more, more than we need, more than our neighbour… and his neighbour.

The new revolution, the digital revolution is here, and it promises to set us free. Free from the industrial complex and conveyor belt of obedient workers. The internet, allows us to easily launch our own businesses and put our ideas out in to the world, to profit in the capitalist system as individuals, but with our own principles driving and guiding us. However, with this promise comes another divide, the digital divide. Internet access across poor communities in the UK is virtually non-existent, and even where it does exist, it’s use is largely social media driven on mobile devices. Rather than direct desktop browser access, it is accessed via mobile apps that push the user to a defined use. As you move up the socio-economic ladder, you then see a lack of IT skills where it is needed. No E-Commerce or enterprising skills to be found. Without these skills and the socially programmed instinct to consume, our young people have no choice but to pursue a path within the industrial complex, therefore missing out on the digital revolution, and their chance to become the digital shopkeepers of the 21st century.

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