You are not free.
But here, I'll focus on the technological side of things. With the advent of social media and the rapidity with which information can be shared, I figured there would be a fast, widespread change in the fundamental way the world operated. And to an extent, this is true – only today would you be able to read the president's Twitter account or see an inaugural speech streamed on YouTube. It seems that times have certainly changed, but in this era of media freedom, I can't help but ask, how free are we really?
Writer Evgeny Morozov seems to think we only enjoy, or at the very least utilize, a small portion of our power through the internet. In an awesome video put up by RSA Animate, one of his many talking points is recognizing intended versus actual usage. Think of it this way: Although there is the occasional video advocating a particular religious/political/social view, how many more cat videos are there, or videos with entertainment as the main draw? Morozov takes it a step further and posits that a majority of internet users spend their time looking at porn instead of collaborating in any meaningful way, and he appears to be correct. According to OnlineMBA, around $3 million is spent on porn every second. That's right, not minutes, seconds. So how is an average internet user's time really being spent? Caught in a vortex of questionable content or something more sinister?
In any case, it's important to remember that government officials are able to access much of the same content you are, which means that your super-secret Facebook group you joined may not be so super or secret after all. But even if it is, what chance does it have of effectively creating change? Or is that even really the point? It seems that when individuals try to spread or acquire certain types of information through the net, they are thrown in jail, and, when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, may resort to killing themselves.
Aaron Swartz faced 50 years in prison for essentially downloading JSTOR articles.
The average amount of time served for statutory rape is 9 years.
WTF. Is this the cost of faux freedom?
Now I won't sit here and pretend to have a solution, but reading about laws like SOPA being shot down is encouraging. At the very least it shows that internet users do have some power in their keyboards. But with SOPA being repackaged and reintroduced as CISPA, how long will it be until the voices of those fighting for internet freedom are lost in a cavalcade of Harlem Shakes and cute cats?
If you want to know more, check out Morozov’s TED Talk segment.
Image Source: http://futureblue.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/online-education-spreading-knowledge-across-the-web/