The digital divide in the US became most evident (to me) in this last election cycle.
If you look at the page weights of 'conservative' vs 'liberal' news sites the former are much smaller and tailored to people on even a dial up, in large part because they know their demographic. Rural internet in the US flat out sucks. We have counties in my state, not more than 3 hours outside of Chicago that still have dialup as a viable option.
Drudge Report loads amazingly fast. Huffington Post does not. Drudge was 1.13 MB in size with 44% of that images. (The site I used to analyze them was done with Drudge's 14 assets long before Huffington Post stalled at 220/222 assets.)
The art of optimization seems to have disappeared, it made a small resurgence when web developers tried to optimize for the mobile web, but it doesn't look like most developers ever tried that hard.
It's a closed feedback loop. Developers live in places with fast Internet, test in places with fast Internet and then don't understand what it's like anywhere else. Students on college campuses live with gigabit internet and Internet2 connections to peer universities. They move to cities that Comcast pays attention to.
The best suggestion I have: Turn off images, configure the browser not to thread connections, and get involved in local government to get faster internet to your area.