Net Neutrality is the most important issue in the history of the world
If you’re reading this, you’re among the luckiest people to have ever existed in the history of the world.
And this is the most important collection of words I’ve ever assembled during my 28 years on this planet.
Let me explain.
It’s 2014 and I’m a hack writer. Now let’s say I’m the same hack writer but it’s 30 years ago. 1984 was a good year for the neon-colored stretch pants industry but not for writers, artists or aspiring difference-makers. Because if I wanted to expose my words to you in 1984 I’d first have to write. A lot. And get really good. And then I’d probably want to move to New York or Chicago or Los Angeles where most of the book and magazine publishers are. I’d knock on doors and make cold calls and attend networking functions with the aim of meeting said publishers. Maybe I’m lucky enough to meet one (or even a handful) of these publishers. I’d send them samples of my work but most likely that wouldn’t be good enough for them. Maybe it wouldn’t be the right “fit” for the “audiences” they represent. So I’d keep writing. I’d pitch them articles and manuscripts every month. My writing would improve drastically. But I’d still be at the mercy of their personal preferences, limited spheres of influence and strict business interests. If I really wanted it badly I’d continue for years. All with the hope of getting lucky. That someone would ultimately “pick” me from a crowd of hundreds or even thousands of other writers. My career as a writer would rest entirely in the hands of “the man.” In America we call this opportunity.
Now what if instead of an aspiring writer I was an aspiring musician? Or comedian? Or actor or politician or artist or general difference-maker?
Same freaking thing.
The mere privilege of sharing your art or attempting to influence others was reserved for the elite — the wealthy, well-connected and unfathomably lucky.
Think about that for a second. The elite few perched atop a castle or a lower-Manhattan high-rise decided the fate for THE REST OF THE WORLD. And those were the rules. A perfect institution established since the beginning of time. And it remain unblemished for generations.
And then 20 years ago the Internet changed everything.
We think of it as the thing that let’s us chat with our friends (R.I.P. AIM) or share pictures of cats or watch videos of people having sex for free (not an endorsement). We think of it as the thing that’s taken down the retail industry. Or travel agencies. Or a million other things. Mostly we take it for granted.
But most of all the Internet is the thing that’s stripping “the man” of all it’s power.
Don’t believe me? It’s happening.
Want to influence people? Start a blog.
Want to share your music with the world? Start a YouTube channel.
Want to publish a book? It’s free on Amazon.
Want to do anything? Do it.
We no longer need permission from the chief to gain access to the tribe.
Now we can take our art right to the people who want it.
This is the privilege of our time. A privilege the human race would never know — or even think to dream of — until now. It’s like you were planting a rose bush and accidentally struck the buried treasure with your spade. Or when you reached into your pocket to retrieve the crumbled-up $20 bill to pay for the trendy vodka cocktail you don’t really like but order because it makes you look cool at a professional function and INSTEAD you found the keys to connect with everyone in the entire world whenever you wanted for free.
If you’re still not getting what a big deal this is please just pop back to your timeline and read what those people you haven’t seen in 5 years are excited about for this weekend right now.
Whether your call it “the man” or the chief or anything else — one thing is for certain. He’s feeling a little vulnerable these days. You see, no one needs him anymore. He doesn’t call all the shots or pull all the strings because you do. We all do now. And that makes him sad.
But it’s worse than that. Like any dictator who feels his power slipping away he’s getting nervous. He’s acting out of fear. He’s trying to get back what’s been lost. He wants things to go back to the way they were.
That’s what the issue of Net Neutrality is all about. The super-rich and super-powerful want to be able to control the ONLY purely equal, democratic and indiscriminate platform that HAS EVER existed in the history of the world. They want to turn the information super-highway into one with two lanes — a special one for the elites and a separate one for the rest of us.
But it’s too late now. A new standard has always been established. The ability to share your words, art or ideas without censorship is no longer a privilege. It’s a right. And to let it slip away would be no less catastrophic than forgoing our right to vote or worship freely or protest peacefully and all the other things some smart guys in wigs decided were inalienable almost 250 years ago. (Inalienable means they’re never supposed to be taken away, bro.)
The Internet is just starting to mature. Because of it businesses can start. And my friend can raise a bunch of money for his neighbor who’s house recently burned down. And a hack writer trying to say something meaningful — while fearing to appear a little crazy — and still be sure his words will find an audience.
None of us need to pay a fee or seek permission to/from anybody or anything.
And neither do you!
Maintaining Net Neutrality isn’t just about preventing a policy that takes us back to the Industrial Age and beyond. It’s about doing right by our predecessors. And protecting what belongs to our world. And all those who will eventually inherit it from us.
But (for now) we don’t have to let it happen.
You have more power than any human in your position in the history of the world. Start exercising it.