I live in St Paul. Three months ago I thought COVID changed my life; one week ago my life really changed when George Floyd was killed by the Minneapolis police. Our community is outraged because his brutal death was captured on video. History has proven that the story, without video, would not be enough to garner overwhelming support. But the story was captured on video and shared worldwide.
The power of broadband made that possible. And since that moment broadband has fed us stories and has allowed people to mobilize – for better and for worse. By day I volunteer for Women’s March Minnesota. I livestream and Tweet to support peaceful protests. I had covered the 10K March to the 35W bridge. I left 10 minutes before the semi plowed into the crowd, which was captured on livestream. Those images fed to the world in real time paint the picture and effect change.
The Revolution will not be televised – it will be livestreamed.
Those of us privileged to have access to broadband during this time have had the opportunity to learn, work and stay healthy online during the pandemic. Now, in the Twin Cities we are learning to guard our community. At night during the curfew, I use broadband to track what’s happening outside. The neighborhood Facebook page lets me know that someone has checked my alley and that the car speeding past has been reported. So I don’t have to go into the alley. Livestreams help me watch what’s happening our town. Police scanners warn me when something is close to my home.
If/when broadband cuts out I feel blind and mute. I see nothing and I can say nothing. We are also seeing that broadband is a tool for information and misinformation; broadband and devices are necessary, but not sufficient. We need the skills to use it. We need to be content providers to tell our stories but also information literate. We need the skills to assess information as well as to keep it secure and private.
It’s a scary time. Coming into it without broadband, device or info literacy skills leaves you less prepared.