Rebel, revolt and reshape. It’s the rage of today, with the occupiers occupying; neo-conservatives fighting social initiatives; and the Arab Spring washing over an entire region. What we’re seeing today is a spike in what the students across the ages have been waging: a war against the establishment.
It’s only natural, right? The status quo can’t maintain forever. Man has proven that in every society someone prospers, and someone suffers. But now, protests are taking a different shape. They are being mobilized quicker, and on larger scales. With the rise of the Internet, and social networking, organizers can, within moments, bring the disenfranchised together with only a well-placed email.
Creating a new stir is the SOPA and PIPA acts, which seek to dictate how the Internet is governed.
Internet powerhouses, Twitter, Google, Wikipedia and the like, teamed up to lobby a halt to the progression of the bills. They enlisted users to contact their local legislators to show displeasure over the invasion of their right to search for porn, and pirated music–or, as it’s commonly known: surfing the web without restriction. These social networks used their own devices to reach the public, in a way that no other institution could, to seek support. But, what are we to do when the tools of resistance are used by those being fought against? Or, does the fact that it was the social networks who led the charge against congress, alter this idea? Whether or not, these companies have undoubtedly altered the way people communicate, and subsequently, how a cause is furthered. So, is it far fetched to believe that since websites such as Facebook and Twitter have promoted the waves of change, they cannot enlist their users to repay the favour in their benefit?
SOPA would have severely altered the way websites such as Wikipedia and Facebook operate, so it took little more than to dangle the idea of the government peering over a users shoulder each time they logged into their accounts to incite fury, leaving the Internet giants only to suggest what the bill might mean if passed.
Tumblr bellowed, and the mass answered back. Wikipedia called, and the mass responded. Shutting down the sites for an extended period of time was the planned protest, and more or less, it worked.
This was a big victory for the Internet community. Not only because it combated a bill that was too invasive, but also because it brought a new form of lobbying to the table. Without the typical flood of money rushing through the halls of Capital Hill, a bill was scrapped. But more importantly, it was a victory for the youthful voice, which has been forced to endure blow after blow in the protests of the last twelve months. But, should the mass be pleased? These Internet companies are apart of the same 1% the occupiers are fighting against. And they, in essence, ordered the youth of American to respond, and they did.
Was it blind allegiance? Or was it a marginally informed conscious decision?
I raise this question because, the Internet is, more or less, a youthful forum, and much of the youth in America blindly swallows, and subsequently regurgitates, whatever ideas their favourite media figure spouts. The talking heads on Fox News, or professional jokesters of the prime time Comedy Central news shows, are examples of this. And though these examples live in the cultural lexicon, they are not the largest pool culled. That honour rests in social networking sites. Politicians, pundits and grassroots movements overwhelm websites like Facebook and Twitter, trying to reach the youth vote, and the youth opinion, because they are young enough to only know a life online, and possess an innocence that fails to warn them of the possibility of their own impressionability.
Are these Internet companies’ giants on the public’s side, or are they another international business venture manipulating a loyal and dedicated user base to achieve their desires? At this point it isn’t clear, but what is certain is that Internet companies can mobilize a great deal of people, in a short amount of time, and that a new form of lobbying has arrived, and may have a lasting impression in Washington.