Starlink brings mixed blessings to Marubo tribe

Starlink brings mixed blessings to Marubo tribe

Starlink blessings

The introduction of high-speed internet has brought both opportunities and challenges to the remote Marubo tribe in the Amazon rainforest. Since Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite service-connected the community of 2,000 people nine months ago, the tribe has experienced significant changes to its way of life. On one hand, the internet has provided life-saving benefits, such as the ability to contact authorities in emergencies like venomous snake bites quickly.

It has also allowed tribe members to access educational resources, share information with other Amazonian tribes, and stay in touch with relatives living elsewhere. However, the sudden exposure to modern technology has also led to some concerning developments. Tribe elders have reported that some young people have become “lazy,” spending excessive amounts of time on their phones browsing social media and watching pornography.

This has led to a rise in aggressive sexual behavior among young men, which contrasts with the tribe’s traditionally chaste values. Kâipa Marubo, a father of three, has expressed worry about his children playing violent video games and potentially mimicking the attacks.

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Starlink’s impact on Marubo life

Some tribe members have fallen victim to internet scams due to a lack of digital literacy. In response to these issues, Marubo leaders have limited internet access to two hours each morning, five hours each evening, and all day on Sunday. They hope this will help preserve their cultural practices and encourage young people to maintain traditional activities like hunting, fishing, and planting.

Despite the challenges, many in the tribe still see the benefits of internet access. Enoque Marubo, a leader who worked to bring the internet to the tribe, believes that the advantages of connectivity outweigh the harms. He noted that immediate medical assistance via the Internet has already saved lives.

The Marubo tribe’s experience highlights the complex impact that modern technology can have on isolated communities. While the Internet has the potential to improve lives and provide critical resources, it can also disrupt traditional ways of life and introduce new social problems. As more remote tribes gain access to the internet, it will be important to find ways to balance connectivity benefits with preserving indigenous cultures and values.


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