Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Real World

We've all heard the news.

A couple weeks ago, Americans got a preview of what could come in the near future. Popular websites such as Wikipedia and Reddit blacked out to protest and raise awareness of the proposed SOPA and PIPA bills—legislation that would inadvertently censor the internet and hinder the free-flow of information.

Protests of this nature were unprecedented and have raised enough attention against the legislation that several congressmen withdrew their support for the bills.

SOPA was shelved, PIPA is being opposed, and the people of the Internet lived happily ever after.

...yeah, I wish.

The bills have simply been put on hold for revisions until they're eventually reintroduced. One day after the protests, the FBI shut down Megaupload, leading many people to wonder why the SOPA/PIPA legislation was necessary in the first place.

Why and how did it come to this?

The ultimate answer is that we, the people, voted in the congressmen who are pushing for these bills.

Or rather some of the people.

During the 2010 midterm election, there was only a 24% youth turnout rate at the polls. This counts all young people ages 18 to 29.

As a college student, I am guilty of having an excuse for everything. For example...

  • I don't shave my face every morning because there's just not enough time.
  • I can't go to the dentist because I don't want to miss my classes.
  • I didn't vote in the last local election because I forgot about it.

Okay, I might be lazy.

But the main thing I'm focused on right now is getting my degree—I'll worry about the world later. I share this sentiment with many other Americans around my age. Perhaps it's because we are constantly being told that we don't live in the real world.

If I didn't live in “reality,” why should I care about current events or politics?

The SOPA/PIPA protests were a wake-up call that students and the rest of America needed. If we don't pay attention to “reality,” your favorite websites may cease to exist. Facebook, Google, Wikipedia, Twitter, Reddit, and nearly any other website you frequent could disappear simply because of a collective apathy towards politics and current events.

While there are many ways to avoid the “real world” (I'm looking at you, Netflix), there are just as many ways to connect to it as well. You could email your congressman. Too much work? Tweet at them instead. You could even sign a petition at the click of a mouse; 4.5 million signed an anti-SOPA petition on the 18th.

Is this slacktivism? Probably. Have a problem with it? Get off the computer and go do something! Vote! Protest! Or don't do anything at all because it's your right!

I've already expressed my appreciation for our first amendment rights in a previous post. Let's fight the good fight! Defend teh interwebz and free speech in AMERRRRICA!