On SOPA and Cranky People

For the record, if I’d had more time/notice, I would’ve blacked out the blog yesterday. Not that a little blog I put up a week ago or something would make a difference, but hey, it’s a matter of standing up for what you believe in regardless of who’s listening.

We all know all about SOPA and PIPA at this point. I’m more interested in cranky activists complaining about people not caring until websites started blacking out.

I first heard rumblings about SOPA on Twitter and Tumblr a while back. If you run in the right circles–or even follow people like me who aren’t ALL ACTIVISM ALL THE TIME but do retweet and reblog things–you heard about it. SOPA didn’t seem to get much media coverage until the end, either. You can’t really be informed on an issue that media outlets aren’t devoting a lot of time to, but that also shows the power of social media. Tumblr and Facebook both had information circulating before the blackouts, so things gained momentum that way.

True, SOPA got the most attention yesterday, and plenty of people weren’t talking until then. Yeah, that level of discourse and activism would be nice all the time. I’ve known and talked about SOPA for a while, but I refuse to throw a Facebook-status hissy fit like the multiple ones I saw yesterday because others weren’t doing the same. Sure, people who don’t pay attention to things or are anti-politics annoy me, and maybe I was more active and more informed than others, but that doesn’t make me better. Besides, since when is a massive, high-profile internet protest that raises awareness and kills a bad act a bad thing?

Say someone didn’t know a thing about SOPA until they went to Wikipedia or Tumblr or PostSecret or In Your Speakers or local favorite Pensblog (all the sites I visit that I can recall offhand blacking out). They get there hoping for all kinds of fun and shenanigans and they’re slapped in the face with serious business about laws and going to jail for five years for streaming a copyrighted song (streaming!? REALLY!?). They now know something they didn’t before. They’re now worried about losing their favorite websites to this nonsense or maybe even getting in trouble because of their Tumblr content. So they speak out. Maybe they post a Facebook status or tweet. Maybe they even sign a petition or call or write a politician.

That’s pretty much what happened. SOPA opposition was already pretty strong, but it gained momentum until it was everywhere for 24 hours. The blackouts accomplished exactly what they were supposed to, perhaps more, and that’s a bad thing? Maybe some people even thought, “Man, I live under a rock. I need to keep up with these things” and now reads more news sites or signed up for some newsletters or something.

Instead of complaining that you were the one ~speshul snowflake~ that already knew about SOPA, sit back and think about the scope of what the interwebz did yesterday.

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