SOPA and PIPA Blackouts

Political Criticism - The Anti-Social MediaThere are a lot of websites going dark today to protest SOPA an PIPA.

Those websites are stupid.

Let me be clear. SOPA and PIPA are awful.I’m totally for educating yourself about national, state and local politics and acting on them. I’m also for using your platform to share messages that are important to you.

But blacking out your website with links for people to send form letters, tweet, and write on their Facebook wall for their elected officials is just silly. What exactly are you going to say on a Facebook post that would be so moving to change a senator’s mind. Do you even know if they read their Facebook wall?

Turning off your website, no matter how many hits you get daily, is just a very minor inconvenience. Seriously, most of us don’t need the internet to live.

Your senator doesn’t care that you could click a button to send an email. Your representative has better things to do than pay attention to the fact you change your Facebook photo and Twitter avatar. Those acts are next to worthless.

Call me a dirty capitalist, but I think money is much more influential than whiny electronic communications.

This website helps me pay my bills, and I pay taxes on what I earn. Those taxes in turn pay my officials’  salaries and for a lot of other nice things I get to enjoy as an American. My officials are much more interested in how a small online business owner such as myself, would be negatively impacted and thus impact their revenue stream.

That’s the kind of compelling story of how people are negatively impacted by this legislation that can change minds and votes. Less money to pay for things is bad. Less LOLCats is a tragedy, but one we can all suffer through.

The only person who will be reading your crappy form letter is the poor intern who had a hope and dream they’d be making a difference in the world. Don’t crush that dream with lame tweets.

But if you still want to do something, send a real letter.  One that you have to put in the mail. Sign your name to it. Make a phone call. Take the time to do something real and meaningful.

Because  at this point we know they’ll probably just shut off the internet anyways.

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13 Responses to “SOPA and PIPA Blackouts”

  1. JP Sherman January 18, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    I think you’re right that the blackouts will not change minds, but considering the awareness of the average american on tech-related bills that aren’t being covered in national media, I think the target audience is not the government, but the people. This protest could raise awareness among voters and people who have no idea what’s going on. For that, i think it’s a good and effective strategy. Will it change legislators’ minds? nope. Will it mobilize people who don’t know about this? I hope so.

    This blackout hits Americans where it makes an impact, their convenience… the moment they realize that a thing they use all the time is threatened, that could motivate action.

    • Jay January 18, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

      I blame people not being able to read trivia about their favorite C list film moving so many senators to change their minds.

  2. Joe Clay January 18, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    I think doing something meaningful is important, however I also believe in doing this. It’s a way to make people who normally wouldn’t say anything at all, at least do something. Several Congressmen have taken their support back at the behest of the public. So something is working.

    • Jay January 18, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

      Maybe it was the blacked out Google logo.

      • Joe Clay January 18, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

        Perhaps, although I believe a few noted that it was due to what they heard from the public.

  3. Court January 18, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    I have to say that this is one of the few areas where I completely disagree with your premise. I think that the wave of sites that are choosing to do this today are contributing to raising the general public awareness that these bills even exist. I hate to admit it, but until I heard that Wikipedia was going dark for 24 hours and I logged in to see what was a big enough deal to motivate them to do such a thing, I didn’t really know anything about these bills. (I’m so busy these days that I tend to be a few weeks behind on my current events… I’m not proud of that but it is what it is…) It took companies that I respect choosing to be a part of this protest to make me sit up and take note, learn more and create my own educated opinion on the matter. A site going down in protest won’t make them go away, but it may make a few more people pay attention. The more people pay attention, the more people act.

    Even small acts like FB posting or changing a picture… are form of protest. One person walking down a street shouting isn’t given much credence either - but one thousand doing the same thing and politicians start to take note. Same with email, I’m sure they don’t read every email that comes in - but I know they are going to get a report on how many emails protesting various subject matter have come in and if I can help by sending one - I don’t thing that’s a wasted effort.

    What politicians care about is degree of public outcry. That’s what we have the power to communicate. The more people spread word, the more people make an active protest, the more emails/FB/G+/Tweets etc that are sent… the greater the perceived degree of public outcry - and that’s what has a chance of motivating law makers.

    Sorry Jay - normally I’m with you 100%

    • Jay January 18, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

      There is strength in numbers. I get that. Sometimes I just don’t see the meaning of that outcry when all I do is read tweets all day.

      And I do think some of the blackouts, like Wikipedia’s, were very meaningful. They illustrated how dedicated they were by removing a fundamental service. That takes guts.

      On the other hand, I look at Google, who simply blacked out their logo. Can you imagine what it would be like if they took down search for the day? That would have been truly shocking.

      • Joe Clay January 18, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

        I think Google shied away from that because they have great power and thus responsibility. They took a balanced approach. Yes, it would have been powerful, but for some google is a necessary service needed in order to get work done.

        Plus, I don’t think Google wants to give the idea that they actually have that much power and can abuse it for their own means no matter how just.

    • Courtney January 18, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

      (Holy crap! I just saw all my typeo’s!!! So much for appearing to have an ‘edjumicated’ opinion!)

  4. Tim Arthur January 19, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Yesterday’s “blackouts,” though economically insignificant, added to SOPA and PIPA opposition solidarity and increased awareness for the cause. That’s not a bad thing. As mentioned, several lawmakers, including two of the bill’s co-sponsors withdrew their support for the bill. Progress.

    The only time politicians are truly influenced by something other than money is when the public that puts them in office is extremely pissed. The media coverage of yesterday’s blackout and the increased public attention brought to the issue rang a few thousand phones and prompted thousands of emails. Google confirmed that 4.5 million people signed their names to their anti-SOPA petition. That’s not a small number.

    Social media and the use of the internet as a campaign platform played a major part in Obama’s 2008 presidential victory. Other lawmakers realize the impact the internet has on their political endeavors as well. It is in politicians intertest to listen to what the internet collective of US constituents.

    Certainly paper mail sent to lawmakers to voice your opposition helps, but I don’t see the increased awareness web blackout participants brought to the cause silly at all.

    The fight isn’t yet over, but I think it’s gained some steam.

  5. Camilo Olea January 19, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    Dear US senators, please don’t take away our porn. Thanks. xoxo

  6. Camilo Olea January 19, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    Seriously, I believe some senators are already backing out of this. Even if those dumb laws passed, we will always have hackers offering us alternatives to circumvent them. Thank god for hackers. And cat videos.


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