Goodbye internet, it was good while it lasted


Sometimes we take things for granted that seem as though they will always be a part of our lives.

Twenty years ago I was enamored with the idea of a jolly fat man delivering presents to me when I was sound asleep on December 24. There was a six foot tall rabbit that would leave Power Ranger action figures in an Easter basket for me once a year. When I lost a tooth I raced to place it under my pillow knowing that eventually there would be a prize for keeping up my dental hygiene.

Then one day in elementary school Kevin M. walked up to me and said something that shook me to my core for weeks.

“Santa’s not real, the Easter Bunny is made up and the Tooth Fairy is your mom.”

He couldn’t contain his laughter as he said it. As though tearing asunder the bubble of reality I’d dreamt up over six short years was the funniest thing he’d ever seen.

I was ruined.

Well as much as a six-year old child can be at least.

I distinctly remember a feeling of dread that invaded every thought that came to mind. I couldn’t focus on school work, I didn’t care about playing sports and video games lost their luster. I felt a sickening weight right beneath my solar plexus that made deep breaths impossible. Honestly, it felt a lot like the day I graduated college and realized real life starts now.

That jerk Kevin robbed me of the reality I had built for myself based off of the promises of those I thought I could trust.

Cut to the present and I am a (semi) well adjusted man-child in my mid-twenties who thought I’d never have to deal with the soul-crushing, reality questioning disappointment that comes with the disappearance of something I’d grown to think was a basic tenant of human life.

Until I woke up last Monday and decided to check out the national headlines.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, last week the freedom to view what you want, when you want on the internet was deemed unworthy of protection by the American government. Net Neutrality has officially been repealed by the Federal Communications Commission.

Net Neutrality was the idea that no matter who you are or what you chose to view on the internet, no internet provider was allowed to slow down your connection in favor of any other website. If you like to visit but paid your internet provider more money, your ISP was not allowed to favor one website over the other. Those regulations are now gone.

Now before you claim I’m being dramatic, let me list just two of the things that are no longer protected when you browse. Internet providers are now legally allowed to determine what you are able to view when using their service, and they are now allowed to slow down your internet connection at their whim.

Let that sink in for a moment. A commodity that the United Nations has determined is a basic human right, is now completely controlled by corporations, with little to no regulation. We don’t even let dairy farmers sell their milk without regulation in this country, but the pipeline to a virtual world that contains all knowledge known to man isn’t deemed worthy of protection?

Now usually at this point I would be attempting to come up with some silly anecdote to make it seem as though everything will be alright, but this time I’ve got nothing.

I can’t laugh about the fact that a basic human right has been ripped away from us seemingly overnight. I don’t think it’s funny that I no longer know for sure whether or not my internet connection is slowing down because of bad weather, or because I chose to use Bing over Google.

Now there is one small sliver of hope that, at least in Michigan, we may still be protected. Senate Resolution 131 introduced in February asks the governor to make an executive order requiring all ISPs to continue to operate in our state as though net neutrality regulations were never repealed. The reason it’s a small ray of hope is because there has been no action taken on that resolution since it was brought up on the senate floor. I find it strange that regulations on whether kayakers have to register their miniature boats can make it through the senate in less than 7 days, but access to a free and open internet has been sitting on the floor for months with no action.

After failed attempts to come up with a bipartisan solution to restore net neutrality we’ve given the green light to ISP’s to charge small business owners, schools and rural Americans more to use the internet. There is one group that should really stick out to those reading this article: rural Americans. If you thought it was hard enough to find a decent internet connection out here now, don’t expect it to become any easier without net neutrality regulations. It is no longer in the best interest of ISP’s to provide the same service to us as they do those in urban areas because it costs them more money to do so.

So enjoy the internet while you can, because while our fearless leaders are screaming across the aisle about how democrats dropped the ball, or republicans refused to stop this, we’ll still be here in rural America trying to find a connection.


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