I have loads of nasty habits. I drink six cups of coffee every morning, I let my wetsuit ferment in the back of my car because I’m too lazy to rinse it out, and I’ve caught myself watching the Oi Rio Pro un-ironically on several occasions. But there’s one stupid, habitual quirk I do every single day: Dick around on the internet. Scan surf sites over my morning coffee(s). Check the news in my car while also checking the surf. Thumb through Twitter on the toilet.
Yeah, it’s a problem I should address. Like most addictions it has its harmful side-effects. Information overload causes mental paralysis. Bright screens are hard on the eyes. There are plenty of things about the world wide web to wiggle your finger, shake your head, and softly mutter, “No, no, no,” about. But it’s not like it’s illegal to freely access one of the greatest repository’s of human knowledge once you jump on the wifi.
But it soon could be if the Federal Communications Commission has its way. What? Yes.
See, the FCC wants to repeal net neutrality. What’s net neutrality? Well, it’s the idea that internet service providers must treat all data on the internet the same and not charge differently by content, website, platform, whatever. It’s what makes the internet a level playing field. And it’s a very good thing.
Want to know what a world (well, this only pertains to the United States but just stick with me) would look like without it? Imagine this: We release a new mag for free (just like what we did with our latest issue) but there’s only 150 copies. Eager, you jump on to your laptop to get to our web store. However, you’re stuck looking at a loading screen because Verizon, Comcast, or whoever it is providing your internet refuses to let our site load at optimal speeds. Why’s that? Well, because we’re unwilling (but mostly unable) to pay internet service providers (ISPs) big dollars for premier New York Times, Google, or YouTube levels of access. Thirteen minutes later you finally make it in and are about to add the issue to the cart. But then, a wild pop-up appears. It reads: “Looks like you’ve used up all your allotted web time for the month! Either pay us $9.99 for another 20-minutes of usage or get fucked!” or something like that. Reluctant, you click the “pay now” button. Then, 19-minutes later, you finish typing in your shipping info only for that carcinogenic pop-up to plague your screen again. Nowhere to go, you fork over more money while also muttering a string of profanities. Then you get back to the web store only to realize all the issues got snatched up while you were dealing with your ISP.
So now you’ve paid $19.98 for a magazine you’ll never get and we intended to be free. Oh, and none of that money even went to us. Nope, it went to a multi-billion dollar corporation that really doesn’t need it. Once that sinks in, you remember you’ll have to hand over more money by the end of the month because you have to use the web for things like your job (emails and such). Frustrated, you take a long look in the mirror. Then you sit on the edge of your bed, a copy of The Communist Manifesto in hand, and have a cry.
That’s the grim reality we may soon be facing if the FCC gets its way. And why do they want to do this? Well because the current model limits their profits, that’s why. So now they’re using their powerful position to strip away the barrier that was stopping them from hemorrhaging consumers of all their money. You could call it a stunning regulatory overreach cash grab. Or, capitalist fascism if you’re more into the whole brevity thing.
But you can help prevent this. It’s easy, just go here. Once you’re there, follow the instructions. It’ll only take five-to-ten minutes of our time. Then, if you’re feeling brave, drop a call to your senators office. Tell them how pissed you are, why this shouldn’t be happening and all that good stuff.
So, don’t want internet plans to look like cable TV packages? Don’t want to pay an additional $35 a month just so you can torment the comment section on Thrasher’s website? Don’t want to lose the wonderful and only medium that sites like Dion.TV, Marine Layer Productions, and the one you’re on right now fostered and grew on? Good, then again, go here. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (the bad guy) and two other Republican commissioners (the bad guy’s henchmen) want to vote on the repeal tomorrow so, get to it.
Here’s the link again, typed out, for emphasis: https://www.battleforthenet.com/. Let’s save one of the last little luxuries we still have. —James Royce