Join 'Internet Slowdown'

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On an ordinary day, you can find me scrolling on Tumblr laughing along to the random things in my feed, but the other day, I noticed that Tumblr had changed. Normally, this is nothing unusual. Tumblr often alters its icons and layout for obscure holidays like Doughnut Day. However, this was not the same thing. All of the icons – my avatar, my buttons to upload a text post, picture, video, link and whatnot – were no longer there. Instead, it appeared as if they were loading or buffering. I started to scroll as I usually do, but nothing loaded. There were no Ice Bucket Challenge videos. No funny cat memes. No “Let It Go” covers. No random Vines that relate to my life. No awkward relationship text posts for me to reblog to my friends. Nothing came up.

Naturally, I panicked, checking my Wifi connection and even going so far as to restart my computer. Still, Tumblr continued to elude me of my internet destiny of laughter and glee.

Then, Tumblr asked me a favor.

It requested me to sign a petition in favor of something called “net neutrality.” All that I had to do was to type my email in the space provided, and then I would have all my images back. However, after I clicked done, it asked me to make a phone call.

To a Senator of Georgia.

It gave me a scripted message to leave on his phone, but that didn’t alleviate any of the sudden pressure I felt. All I wanted was to marvel at the lives of my favorite celebrities. Instead, I was being asked to make a phone call to my senator. It was outrageous, crazy and something that shouldn’t happen on a normal day.

But it did.

Suddenly, this normal day became the day when I picked up my phone, dialed my senator and actually left a voicemail for him to possibly hear all in the name of “net neutrality.”

Once I had my Internet connection back, I began to wonder: what is net neutrality?

I did what any college student would; I Googled it. Net neutrality is the ability to use the Internet without the network’s discriminating against information. In other words, it is the means of going to any and every website that you want to with the same high speed Internet used for each one.

In January of 2014, a major court decision placed this principle in jeopardy when it stripped the FCC of its power to enforce net neutrality. Now, telecommunication companies can exploit technologies by controlling what sites get the higher Internet speeds and charging extra to use certain sites.

The horror of this invasion is that, without net neutrality, our basic human right to freedom of the press and speech are infringed upon. Large telecommunication companies are given the reins to control Internet speed however they please. Our precious Internet privacy will become nonexistent as networking companies decide which sites gets high speed Internet and which do not. The “World Wide Web” will  become narrower and more of a small, isolated country.

To place this into perspective, if net neutrality is voted down, we could end up paying extra money just to use Netflix and Hulu at the speed that we use them now. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and other social networking sites could easily end up having slower speeds. Reading a blog or watching a video on YouTube could become a pastime that would have to be sacrificed for the sake of saving money. Simply searching for something on Google could become a hassle because the page’s loading time.

These are extreme cases, but they may very well become grim realities that we have to face. Our rights to the freedom of the Internet are in danger. Our liberty to view a movie, to read a story, to put up a status or photo and to scroll through feeds are at risk. The future of the Internet is hanging in the balance. It all depends on net neutrality.

So what can you do to help protect your right to net neutrality?

Sign the petitions. Write to the FCC. Share everything. Fight for what we protect. Defend what we love.

The Internet is ours to control, our right to freedom of expression, and our… everything. We live on the Internet. No one can take our lives away. No one should be able to take our Internet away.

Join the Internet Slowdown today to keep what is ours.

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