I am not a pundit. I don’t get a lot of hits here. I’m not a celebrity or a pro gamer or even all that well-known. I’m just a guy who loves the Internet.
I know that the society can get pretty disparate and broken at times, with dark little corners full of all kinds of depravity. It’s like any large city, only the Internet has hundreds of millions of inhabitants and instead of crowding into buses and subways, we use various kinds of data transmission to work, to play, to communicate and live. Disparate though we may be, there are times when we work together in a common goal.
Yesterday was one of those times.
Yesterday I saw the Internet come together because the rights of free speech are threatened. Sites went dark. People lodged protests. They posted videos, sang songs, called Congressmen. And one by one, politicians who were likely well-paid by a bloated and antiquated entertainment industry walked away from the bill in question because they realised it was badly written and poorly thought out.
Today I suspect a lot of people will go back to business as usual, to their LoLcats and Let’s Plays and cooking videos and midget porn.
There’s something really sad about that.
What’s sad is that this community bent towards freedom and individuality can come together in this way over the rights of its predominantly white male user base, but when it comes to the rights of disenfranchised minorities being held without trial or due process, or the rights of young children who weren’t born white to have a decent education guided by teachers paid well for what they do, or the rights of women to choose how, when and why their bodies are used and regarded, the voice isn’t anywhere near as strong or united.
I know mine isn’t the biggest voice on the Internet. Mine is not the uniting force. Were I to run for King of the Web or participate in any similar competition I’d get absolutely flattened. My corner of the Internet is tiny.
But I’m going to stand up and shout in it anyway.
SOPA is not the only injustice. PIPA is but one of many miscarriages of liberty. Yes, yesterday can be counted as a victory, and we need to keep the pressure on until these idiotic bills die the incendiary deaths they deserve, but they’re not the only problem with which we can help. Many more egregious problems are extant in the world, problems we have just as much access to as we do YouTube and Reddit; where are the funky songs about them? Why aren’t more people speaking out against them? Where is the Internet that shouted back at the laws they disagreed with because it affected them directly? Does the Internet just not care?
I’d like to think we do. I’ll be the first to admit I lean more towards naive, starry-eyed optimism than anything else, but in my heart I believe that common sense and goodwill can and does prevail over selfishness, maliciousness and greed. And I can’t even point to most people I know & respect on the Internet and accuse them of any of that. Short-sightedness and more than a little anger, maybe, but not maliciousness and certainly not greed. The people I aspire to stand with don’t do what they do for the ad revenue.
After yesterday’s activities I was fully prepared to admonish my fellow Internet denizens to remain watchful of government bodies and fat entertainment moguls. The Internet is a free and open forum, after all, and the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. But to that request I feel I must add another.
Don’t stop caring. We’ve proven that when we work together, have a clear goal in mind and remain motivated by speaking to, for and about each other, we can accomplish great things. The only way we can be stopped when it comes to standing up for our rights and the rights of those who have none or can’t speak for themselves is when we, ourselves, stop giving a shit.
Just some food for thought, Internet.
Just some food for thought.