Remember on Seinfeld when George explained in great detail why Relationship George and Independent George could never meet? Relationship George would KILL Independent George. He'd lose the ability to be bawdy, be Movie George, to be himself, to do all the things he'd normally do because if his fiancée Susan joined their friends circle he'd be expected to act as he would when he's with Susan alone. This cannot happen for George or he'll end up losing a huge piece of himself. That's exactly the same thing that Net Neutrality prevents happening. If the cable companies had it their way, the Independent Internet would be killed by Big Cable/Phone Internet. No more cat videos. No more fandom fun. No more shopping in your pjs---well at least at certain sites! If Big Cable/Phone Internet walks through that door, it will KILL Independent Internet. And as Jerry says to George, “But I love Independent George,” and George says, “Me too!” all of us, too, love Independent Internet. Don't let Big Cable/Phone Internet walk through that door.
Let's rephrase it a moment. We live in monumental times. In the last thirty years, we've seen technological changes that have shaped and sculpted our society in ways that haven't been seen since Gutenberg launched the printing press and set the stage for what would become the Protestant Reformation. Information and its dissemination has always been a battle for who has access and control. Who has the right to read or access the texts that are provided by the wonder of the printing press? Who has the right to publish using the technology? Technically, anyone who has such a press can do so. In the modern age, in the 21st century, that argument has shifted from the movable type that Gutenberg made so famous to a digital text---a digital printing press we call the Internet.
Learn about the Printing Press and Guetenberg here: http://www.biography.com/people/johannes-gutenberg-9323828
Much like the printing press revolutionized everything in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries---setting the stage for the seventeenth and eighteenth century Age of Enlightenment---the Internet has already revolutionized how we do business, banking, shopping, every day communicating, recreation, and news. It has opened the world to new view points and to new ideas. It has brought people closer together all the while they are physically apart. It is through the Internet that we can reach millions of others in ways never thought possible even a short thirty or forty years earlier. It has given voice to everyone and all---want to find something or have a particular interest, the Internet will have some website, community, or app to fulfill that need.
Or it will as long as a certain tenet of the Internet holds: Net Neutrality.
It sounds extremely boring on paper. It sounds dry and dusty when broken down, so here's how I'll make it clear---think of the Internet's grand nickname: the Information Super Highway. Highway. That's what it really is in digital terms. With Net Neutrality, it means that you can go anywhere on that highway you point your mouse and click, no matter your cable or phone provider---just as you would point the nose of your car and drive down an interstate no matter the brand or make of car. It means that regardless of driving Ford or Audi that you can drive that road without paying extra or being forced to detour to a different highway to continue on your way. In Internet terms, it means that you can go to your websites---local and worldwide and beyond---without having to pay even more than you already do. It also means those that create the content you seek won't have to pay extra to even BE on that highway or pay for a marquee place within that highway that you can get to faster or find easier than other content. Who wouldn't want that?
Simple. The cable and phone companies that provide the Internet service we all rely upon for our everyday life now. They would love to either charge their customers more for access or extra access as they do for television channels---or they'd like to charge extra to those that provide the content of your choice more. They want to “tier” the Internet and make a so called “slow” and “fast” lane so that you can access only certain websites on the highway at the speed we've all come to rely and expect. I can see your eyes gloss over, so let John Oliver here explain it better than I ever could. Watch his explanation from when we first waged the war for Net Neutrality---and won.
Educate yourself so that we don't see Big Cable/Phone Internet KILL the Independent Internet!
Now, some have argued that the FCC or the governmental ruling that cable and phone providers must treat ALL Internet traffic the same as being a “governmental” take over. Oh really now. If you take this rule away, what will happen is you'll see the cable and phone companies decide what is good and bad or worthy or not worthy on the Internet. They'll let Big Cable/Phone Internet take away Independent Internet. No more “Movie” Internet. No more “Fandom” Internet. No more “Shopping” Internet. No more “News” Internet. Just whatever the cable companies think you should be able to “pay” enough premium to access. That's no fun for anyone but them. And, last time I checked, the companies that lead the charge for worst rated in customer service for the past ten years or so are cable and phone companies. What makes anyone think that they'll “improve” the Internet by dictating what sites are “fast” and which ones are “slow” and which ones we can access? Imagine having to fight with your provider every time you wanted to visit a local business website or your local library's website or a local governmental site? Imagine being unable to watch your shows or your news without having to pay even more? Or, for those content providers to pay so much more just to reach you. Something tells me that cable and phone companies would have no qualms about turning our Internet into a largely useless serviced unless one is able to pay a significant higher mark up than right now.
And really, don't we already pay enough? Tally your phone and cable bills. I'll wait. Now times it by 12 to see what you pay annually. Now you understand, yes?
Look at it another way. Think about how the Internet reflects democracy. There's websites, communities, and content that run the gamut of any interest or subject. This is a good thing---yes even for those subjects or view points we may not agree with. Some may not approve of all of the websites that discuss right or left political views. Some may not approve of the copious amounts of pornography readily available. Some may not enjoy the frivolity (but honestly, who can hate cat videos? There's a lovely cat video festival in Minnesota for a reason!). And yet, those that access and use the Internet on a daily basis have certain places they like to visit frequently for their daily needs. There's banking, news, education, and shopping that everyone uses. Some may not like certain news sources such as FOX, CNN, NPR, and yes, even so-called alternative or fringe or extremist sources such as Breitbart news. For every site you agree with, there's one you will disagree with. All viewpoints must be allowed on the Internet as it currently stands. That's democracy in action. That's the Independent Internet we all know and love. To choose which survives and which dies, it should be left up to users deciding which ones they will favor and which ones they will not based on which they visit and if they use the content/service being provided. Any other methodology---such as the fast lane/slow lane model---eliminates the democratic weeding of the Internet.
This has been seen in action. Think MySpace and Facebook. MySpace is still around, yes, but in comparison it has less usage and less users than its rival Facebook. Think about the start ups that are yet to be launched that could shape our future for the better---the next Google or the next Amazon or the next YouTube. No Net Neutrality, no one can access them in their infancy, and then the new venture dies. The Internet is the clearest practice of the old adage long held by the Republican Party: free markets without interference. (And yes, I know Republicans are the ones leading the charge AGAINST Net Neutrality) So, in this case, that means keeping other companies from interfering with other business. Verizon and Comcast shouldn't be able to tell Amazon or Etsy or Ebay to pony up or face being stalled on the networks in order for them to make a bigger profit. We should have the right and ability to visit Walmart's website or a small artisan's website just as equally. We should be able to reach our own customers equally---no matter what we sell or provide through our websites. The only business that wins here will be the cable/phone companies that want to charge even more exorbitant fees than they already do.
Think Cyber Monday, the final cap on the Black Friday/Grey Thursday shopping craze held throughout retail both digital and brick and mortar every year. It yielded $1.07 billion in 2016 alone. Yes, that's BILLION. Take away Net Neutrality, and suddenly that may collapse. If someone can't access your website because their cable provider may not allow it in the “fast lane” and that revenue shrinks immediately. Think that sounds bad, you're right. In no time, that'd create an economic collapse. In no time, businesses throughout the country and the world would be cut off from loyal and vital customers that are expecting an easy and quick shopping experience. Not all web businesses can pay the “fast” lane fee and not all customers can pay a higher premium for access to select websites on top of their already high cable/phone bills.
And now, here's where I expose that I'm extremely Dutch---and not just because of my name or my heritage. I pay about $270-300 a month combined to my phone and cable provider. I should, by all rights for what I pay them, get to use the Internet as I see fit, yes? If I'm paying that kind of money, you can bet that I'll be in your face if you try to dictate to me how I can use the service or what I can access or if I can reach one site at one speed but reach another at a slower one. I pay for this. I'm not just an Internet user. I'm a customer with hard earned money going into the service provided. I pay, they provide. That's how it's supposed to work. If they want to change what I'm getting, either charge me significantly less for this service or leave it alone as it is. Or, you can find out just how Dutch I can really be. I will not tolerate being told what I can and cannot do with the service I pay hundreds of dollars for. I won't stand silently by.
And neither should any other paying customer. The Independent Internet is OURS. It is for all of us. It should not be taken hostage by Verizon, Comcast, Charter, or Time Warner. It shouldn't be in the hands of AT&T. It should be for the American People. We pay for it. We pay for it directly to these providers. We pay for it in the taxes that are added on for various infrastructures that maintain these services. Put simply, we PAY ENOUGH ALREADY.
Protect Net Neutrality. Contact the new FCC Chairman @AjitPaiFCC or visit www.fcc.gov or call this number 1-888-CALL FCC (225-5322) and tell him that you want the Internet to stay open and unfettered from corporate control. Tell him and your Senators that you want to see Net Neutrality protected and upheld. Don't know how to reach your senators? Look up your state here https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/
and start dialing/emailing/writing. Tell them don't let Big Cable/Phone Internet kill Independent Internet. Support groups like Demand Progress https://demandprogress.org/
and Free Press https://www.freepress.net/
so that they can argue on our behalf to keep the Internet as we've always known and loved it---and paid for it.
If you're not going to do it for the porn or the shopping or the fanfic, do it for the cat videos.
Because honestly, cat videos are the real reason we're all here on the Independent Internet, no?