So, I’ve been hearing a lot about net neutrality lately. And by lately, I mean today, Wednesday, July 2nd, 2017. You aren’t reading this on that day, I promise, I’m the one who put it up on the website. I’ve got to admit, the first few times I heard the phrase net neutrality I didn’t really understand what it was. Maybe I still don’t, I don’t always like to say that I understand things because there is a certain unappetizing finality to that. I did do research though. What I got from my research is that net neutrality keeps the internet as an equal platform for everyone. That’s what we have now. The other option would propose allowing companies that we get our internet service from to manipulate it. The window would be left open for these companies to block things that might make them look bad, or slow internet speeds to get people to pay more or favor content companies that are willing to pay them more. A very simple description, I know. There’s probably something I got wrong, or some terribly important thing I left out, but I tried guys, I swear. The thing is, I really don’t want this to be a political rant. I just want to say some things because all this stuff that I’ve been seeing about net neutrality has got me thinking about what I use the internet for. More specifically, what I would not be able to do if my internet suddenly became a problem. Or maybe I could still do these things, but it would be ten times more difficult to make them happen?
I work for IDEAS. I don’t typically go in to our physical office though, because my personal office is located on a different plane of reality, somewhere inside all of the ones and zeros that talk to each other in my computer’s brain. Let’s break the fourth wall, (Which we all know I never bothered with to begin with, so let’s just break into backstage, steal all the props, and terrorize the tech people. I’m kidding, literally NEVER do that, as a former props chief take it from me, you do not want to mess with the techs), for a moment to talk about the process. I run social media for IDEAS, this blog included. New blogs are posted to the website on Mondays. Occasionally, they’re written by me, which makes things simple, because then I don’t have depend on anyone else’s timing. In order for you to be reading this now I had to use the IDEAS website, Medium (our blog’s second home), Hootsuite (the website I use to control all the other websites at once), Facebook, and Twitter. All within the space of like, five minutes. Internet complications might make that very difficult. So, there’s that, the practical element. Even the people who see no point in spending time online will most likely send emails at the very least. But, there’s more than practicality to internet culture. I have a very close friend who I lived with when I was at school in New York. Obviously, I don’t see her as much, since I am no longer in New York, but she also lives very, very far away, and when she goes home for breaks time zones become a problem. The only way we can still communicate is by texting and social media. Or phone calls I suppose, but that’s not usually what happens. I’m losing my momentum now, but you get the idea. The internet is a tool that cultivates community. It brings people together, keeps relationships alive, helps people who feel alone find other people like them and begin to understand that maybe they aren’t so alone after all. It is a way that people share and spread ideas, sometimes good ones and sometimes bad ones, but that’s kind of the point. You can find anything and everything online, lots of things you probably didn’t want to find. It’s like an enormous, invisible city built from ideas and human souls instead of concrete and metal. A million voices calling out and miraculously finding each other. Finding a home together. When I hear this stuff about companies slowing Wi-Fi speeds I picture people desperately reaching out, running toward each other from opposite sides of a street that is slowly filling with honey, until they’re drowning in it. Until they can no longer move, like bugs encased in amber, or Han Solo in carbonite. Maybe I’m over dramatic, it’s just that people need each other, they need friends, communities, families. The communities we build in that strange and intangible space that is the internet make changes in people’s lives, in our entire world, and the fact that everyone has access to those spaces are part of what make them so important.