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Thoughts on SOPA/PIPA and the Internet Blackout

I went on a rant this morning about the Internet Blackout that’s currently happening across the Web. I decided I should write a bit more for those who are interested.

I want to get something clear before I go any further. I think SOPA and PIPA are terrible bills. They will not only hurt the Internet in ways we can only guess and extend the government’s power over it, but it will fail to accomplish its primary mission, stopping online piracy, something I actually agree we need to do.

So you would think that I would be ecstatic that this online Blackout has raised awareness of these bills and caused people to contact their Representatives and tell them not to support this bill. And the truth is that I am. I am glad people are coordinating something that will help accomplish my goals as a citizen.

My issue with the blackout goes beyond SOPA/PIPA, it goes to the core of why I think our country is in trouble. The idea that the average citizen no longer learns about the things they hear about in the news*. Instead they make a snap decision based on a few sound bytes by someone they think sounds good on TV.

The Blackout is going to raise awareness but I fear that those who didn’t know about SOPA/PIPA before they try to use Wikipedia today, aren’t going to actually care about this bill. Instead they are going to see that their toys** were taken away and contact their Representatives by clicking a big “do it for me” button.

So I’m not upset at the Blackout, and I understand why people decide to participate. But I’m not, and not because I don’t want these two bills to fail, but because I’m worried about the future of a Republic where people don’t vote with their minds*** but instead based on what their favorite celebrity says or because someone took their toys away.

* I’m not perfect either and often make snap decisions, but I also try very hard to identify when I do this and be sure to do some actual research and maybe even skim a bill before I sign an online petition or write my representatives in Congress.

** I’m using toys because “tools that some people use to accomplish their jobs or school work and other use purely for entertainment purposes” sounds ridiculous.

*** I also don't want Senators or Representatives that vote based on who donated the most money, so maybe this Blackout is the only weapon we have, which is scary as hell.