I’m a tech person. I love tech. I’ve argued for tech. I’ve seen the social media revolution as a great thing for humanity. I’ve watched the internet destroy barriers and connect people in a way that science fiction writers could not dream up. I won’t go so far as to say the entirety of human knowledge is available as my fingertips as I write this, but I would say we are getting pretty darn close to that. A good friend of Nora and I’s was diagnosed with MDS and AML and I was able to go from knowing nothing about either to having a pretty decent basic crash-course in both within a few hours, including bleeding-edge information and treatment options. Even this blog, which would have been a journal of an unknown man in times passed, is now available for the world to see.
All of this sounds great, but it gets even better when you start to dissect is a bit more. Information is power, and information is freedom. The more you know and the more you have access to learn (or access as necessary), the more freedom you have. If you are not reliant on the powers to know, learn, and grow, if you are not reliant on archaic structures for learning and education, if you can learn anything you want because everything is available, you are more free than someone who cannot.
The internet has also broken down social barriers. Twitter, for all of its faults and negatives, has completely opened up the social sphere and leveled the playing field. It has opened paths of communication and allowed people of different social classes to communicate in an honest and open way – and mean and funny, as well, but the communication is happening that would have never happened before. YouTube has allowed people, not giant corporations, to determine what entertainment they want. Netflix has given artistic freedom to movie and television creators that the industry has never seen before. This talk by Kevin Spacey is worth the 46 minutes.
The internet has changed things, some for the worse but vastly for the better. Something it has done is given freedom, and in a way that nothing before it could have possibly done and nothing since its inception has come close to doing. The internet is freedom, period.
A major aspect of that freedom is the fact that every bit of data is equal. The only thing that differentiates how data is handled on the internet is size. No data, no video or service, gets a priority over anything else. There are sluggish servers, bad connections, but that is a problem with infrastructure, not a deliberate structuring of how quickly data is delivered based upon who can pay and who is willing to pay for their data to be given quickly. No one is given preference and the internet is a neutral ground that has never been seen before.
And if what the internet delivery companies want to do with our data happens, we are going to lose that neutral ground. If we let the telecommunications companies like Comcast, Time-Warner Cable, Cox, Verizon, AT&T, and Mediacom to determine who gets to go quickly and who gets throttled based upon who pays them in addition to what they are getting paid from subscribers, we are letting them destroy this neutral ground that has allowed small people to grow and succeed, allowed people who didn’t have the resources to learn before to learn anything they want from anywhere, and allowed the world to be connected to each corner.
If net-neutrality fails, then we are losing our freedoms. Period.
I entitled this post “Lost Art of Freedom” to fit in here and I fear that I’m stretching it but I think there is something to practicing freedom. Living in freedom is an art form. I have no idea how to define that, but I do know what it isn’t. I know that just using the internet for things that do not grow you, allowing your life to be defined by the frivolities of the internet instead of the beautiful thing that is presents, and not using it to broaden communication and freedom that is affords you, you are not practicing the art of freedom.
Or maybe you are. Part of freedom is really the right to slit your own throat if you so desire. Now, I am not advocating real suicide, but if you want to use the internet for cat pictures and Facebook chat, who am I tell you you can’t? That is the beauty of freedom.
I don’t think, though, that if we idly sit by and not use the freedom and neutrality that the internet affords, we have lost our art of freedom. If we don’t stand up and fight for our freedom, if we don’t use the freedoms we are afforded, if we are just idle, we have lost the art of freedom.
So what do we do now? How do we fight that money and that power?
John Oliver has a brilliant idea (NSFW/Cursing Warning: I don’t blush at it, but I can understand why you may not want to watching something of that nature). Contact the FCC and tell them that this is a freedom issue, not a commerce issue or something that should be determined by the powerful and rich men to make more money at the expense of freedom and neutrality amongst all people. That is something you can do. Here is the link:
http://www.fcc.gov/comments – Proceeding 14-28
Do this. John Oliver kind of pushes for this to be “trolling” in terms of how we approach it but I think if we are professional, say that it is hurting our freedoms, and point to why, they have to deliberately deny this by changing the rules. Period. In changing this rule, they are choosing the profits of giant corporations over the freedoms of the entire nation. We must express that this is unacceptable.
After you are done doing that, do something on the internet that makes it beautiful and wonderful. Chat with someone on a different continent. Learning something about theoretical physics. Communicate with someone famous and important on Twitter. Do something that the internet made possible that was impossible before. Use the freedom we have been afforded in this act.
Learn to practice the art of freedom. Act in a way that requires freedom. Do something that shows you are free.