With the Internet, every single person in every single country is a diplomat. People often say, when you visit another country, you represent your own country. When I visited Europe on the People-to-People Ambassador program in 1999, a program created by President Eisenhower to bring Western European citizens and American citizens closer together, our chaperones often said: “Remember, you’re representing your whole country. So BEHAVE!” A threat, yes, but also a very true statement and the embodiment of the program. With the Internet, we don’t have to get on a plane to communicate with someone in another country. It’s immeasurable how much we’ll lose in influencing other countries to adopt our way of life or to even have a democratic system rather than dictatorship, especially in the wake of China’s push to win them over with money. We try to win them over with aid and with convincing speeches about how everyone in their country deserves a shot, but if we’re not giving them enough money AND Ajit Pai takes away our ability to speak to them, then this country might as well not even exist anymore because we’ll have no way to interact with other countries unless we blindly get on a plane and go there. There’s literally NO CHANCE of convincing anyone that we’re good people that way.
At its core, I’ll describe democracy as our ability to run our own country via informed decisions about whom to elect to represent us. In other words, we can’t all run the country at once so we need others to do it for us, but we get to choose them ourselves. Without the ability to make an informed decision, it’ll be hard to elect the right people. This country has been around for more than 200 years, and we did well electing people before the Internet. HOWEVER, the information that we’ve gained via the Internet comes from our interactions with each other. The Internet is basically one big manifestation of the First Amendment’s clause that enumerates “the right of the people peacefully to assemble.” Instead of going to door to door to tell people to show up in the town square, we can create websites at will, without a fee, and we can link those sites to Facebook and elsewhere or just pass the web address via e-mail, without fear that recipients won’t be able to access the site. Therefore, we’re able to assemble and create much larger movements that get the attention of people that are supposed to represent us.Our representatives, too, need to know what we want. If a constituency changes its mind or has more information to share, our representatives won’t know that until they go to a townhall and EVERYONE shows up.
Our representatives, too, need to know what we want. If a constituency changes its mind or has more information to share, our representatives won’t know that until they go to a townhall and EVERYONE shows up. But now we’re always at the townhall, always talking, always sharing ideas, and always telling our representatives what we’ve come up with and what we’d like them to do. Movements like https://grabyourwallet.org/ and others that are basically just simple websites where, in that case, you can learn which companies are doing wrong by us, aren’t profit-generating and aren’t interested in commerce. They just want to get the word out, and these are the websites that will be slowed down. Instead of 5 bars, you’ll get 3 unless you pay. In other words, any website you don’t already know you like, you won’t pay for it, which means you won’t find out about so many companies that are abusing their customers, their employees, the general public, and even our representatives via tantalizing agreements that fund their reelection campaigns.
In short, certain things are getting worse in this country but the Internet told us about it, and those who are treating us horribly want to prevent us from knowing about it, sharing it with others, and assembling to fight against it, and that is a degradation of our democracy.
So what can we do about it?