Essays on Technology and Culture

Barriers to the Meritocracy

After the hackathon was over, Maurice gathered every team member’s contact information and wrote it all down on the back of the business card I gave him. Later that night, I received a phone call from him, and he asked if I would be able to teach him how to code. I love teaching, and Maurice seemed like a nice kid, so I offered to help. He immediately said, “okay, go,” and awaited instruction. I explained that I wouldn’t be able to teach him over the phone, but then I found out that he didn’t have internet at home. If that surprises you, you should know that this is actually a bit more common than you may think.

Tech’s High Barrier to Entry for the Underprivileged — Backchannel — Medium

This is why the so-called “meritocracy” of technology is bullshit. When someone is so poor that they can’t afford Internet access, or even a computer, how can they learn to program in the first place? Tech is only a “meritocracy” if you are privileged enough to have the first rung of the ladder in reach. Few kids are as lucky as Maurice is to have people helping him.