We have a tradition in our house. Every year my wife and I go out early on Black Friday just to say we were in the mix. We rarely buy anything but we always have stories to tell about what we see and what people are willing to do to get the best deal. This year the stores appeared to up the ante by opening as early as 10pm on Thanksgiving night and some stores like Walmart never closed at all. Toys R' Us opened at 10pm and by 9:30 there was a line about a mile long of people standing outside in the rain. Some people had been there for almost 5 hours. We pulled up about 9:45 and I immediately checked in on Foursquare on my iPhone to receive a discount for checking in and looked on twitter to see what other stores had shorter lines while my wife looked on her iPad to see what things we could just buy online.
Now, while all of this sounds like a high tech spy movie, it's really just another day in the connected world we live in, but that's only if you are connected. I wondered how many people would have stood out in the ran if they knew they could get a lot of the deals online on Monday. How upset would they be if they knew just by checking in on foursquare, i would immediately get a better deal than them. As I looked at this line i started to wonder if this is what a digital underclass would look like. People missing out on opportunities daily just because there were not connected. We are talking about Christmas shopping deals right now, but when we get into more serious topics like, education, health care information, jobs, and the list goes on, the stakes seem to get a bit higher. All the talk this week has been about the FCC focusing on Net Neutrality and, as I have feared for some time now, the topic of broadband adoption is falling to wayside. So when you hear all the talk in the media over the next few weeks start asking the question: Who is fighting for the people on track to be a part of the digital underclass. Making an already neutral internet more regulated won't help them all.