I don’t text much. I’ve never understood the appeal of frantically typing out garbled syntax when I’m supposed to be driving, working, or having dinner with someone. Texts have neither the intimacy of a phone call nor the coherence of an email.

Clearly, I’m not a Luddite. After all, I created this blog, I twitter regularly, and I’ve been known to hang out on FaceBook for uncomfortably long periods of time. That’s not someone who is hostile to technology.

Still, I’m behind the curve when it comes to my Latino brethren. According to the Pew Center, Hispanics (especially young ones) are more likely than blacks or whites to text. That’s part of a larger trend, which is that ethnic minorities are more likely to rely on mobile devices than white people are.

On the surface, this is surprising. After all, while those iPhone commercials feature young people of every color gyrating in ecstasy to the device, I have yet to see a non-white person using one. The cultural stereotype, in fact, is that smartphones exist solely for upper-class whites to coordinate which sushi bar they’re meeting at.

However, plenty of minority teens and twentysomethings live on their phones. The difference is that, because they tend not to have the economic power of their white peers, they text and surf on cheaper models.

In fact, this financial aspect is one reason why young Hispanics and blacks are constantly plugged in. A cell phone with a decent internet connection is simply less expensive and more convenient than a laptop.

In short, accessing the internet via computer (as I tend to) is so very Anglo. But logging on with your cell is much more Latino.

We’ve heard a lot about the digital divide. This holds that minorities aren’t getting online as much as white people. Well, that gap narrows, and arguably disappears, when mobile devices are included.

This is doubly good news. First, it means that young Hispanics will not be left behind as technology rumbles forward. Second, it increases the odds that the Fanatic will soon make an appearance on a cell phone near you.


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December 2009
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