"You have internet access, so you can't really be poor!" is really not the trump card people seem to think it is.

There are various reasons why someone on a low income might spend a significant chunk of that income on internet, even if it makes affording other stuff hard.
These are just my reasons; feel free to add your own.

- Because being disabled means I can't leave my flat much, let alone do things like shopping. So if I need groceries, new clothes, etc, I need to order them. Where do I do that? Online.
People also say "There's so much you can do without needing internet access." That can be true, but again, I can't usually go out and get things (books, art / craft supplies, etc) on my own. If I can afford them at all, I still have to order them online.
- Because being so isolated for so many years, mostly due to how this world is Not prepared for people like me to exist in it, has led to me having zero personal relationships (I'm estranged from relatives). Social connection is important. Where do I get that? Online.
This is especially important as someone who is part of multiple minority groups. Having connection with other people like me (e.g. other disabled people) is vital to my mental health. That connection can be found online.
- Because the internet gives me ways to learn about the world and build skills that could potentially get me off benefits one day, or at least allow me to earn a little extra alongside my benefits. It's much harder to learn so much without the internet.
While a lot of things online are far from fully accessible (to disabled people), online courses are generally more doable for me than offline courses / classes would be, even if I could get out of the flat more often.
- Because the internet gives me access to things that help my mental health on a day-to-day basis (e.g. ASMR, music, resources, reminders that things can get better) that I wouldn't have access to offline. When I don't have internet, my mental health worsens drastically.
- Because many resources for disabled people, for LGBT+ people, for people on benefits, for abuse victims (not happening currently, don't worry, it's a past thing), etc are only accessible to me online.
- Because it's actually quite difficult to get through the benefits system without internet access, even if you're not on a benefit that requires you to do job searches. A lot of the info is much easier to find online. Plus I communicate with my benefits adviser via email.
- Because my almost lifelong goal has been to be an author, and without the internet it is far harder, in some ways outright impossible, for me to do all the research I need to for my books.
These are just the things I can think of now. There may be others. But, as you hopefully understand now, there are some reasons why having internet access is vital to me, and other reasons why it's still very important. So yes, I am really on benefits, and that does mean I'm well
below the poverty line for the UK. And yes, I still choose to spend about £20 a fortnight on internet access. Because without it, I would lose access to so many things, from essential food deliveries to connection with other people to ways to improve my future.
So stop using "You have internet access, you can't really be poor!" as some kind of "Aha!" moment. The situation is complex and you're acting as though it's simple.

Leave poor people and our financial choices be. We know what's right for us better than some stranger does.
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