That statement has the look and feel of hyperbole, I’ll grant you that. But titles have to be succinct. The fuller statement is that blogging as we know it will die as soon as carriers can exercise the right to restrict and censer content by either blocking or slowing down sites that they really don’t like because they have no financial stake in them or see them as a threat in either commerce or culture. That is quite a mouthful but it also happens to be 100% true. Upstart bloggers have just been handed a death sentence and our opportunity for appeal has been shut off. We are going to the gallows.
I’d love to know the full details and the full story behind how Ajit Pai was chosen by President Obama to hold a seat on the FCC. Word on the street is that there is a “tradition” of keeping the mighty Federal Communications Commission balanced between moderate Democrats and Republicans for reasons of political harmony and Pai was suggested to President Obama by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as someone who would fly through the confirmation process without any trouble. And Obama agreed- you know in keeping with tradition. Obviously that happened well before McConnell and his side decided that they didn’t give a damn about the written rules of the Constitution, much less tradition, when they refused to even hold hearings on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland after the sudden death of Antonin Scalia. They flagrantly and openly hijacked the Supreme Court and now they are flagrantly and openly hijacking the internet to curry favor in a major way with all of the major internet carriers who can dump loads of cash into their election coffers from now until rapture over this huge give-away. And they are laughing at us because they have gotten away with it.
So President Obama got got on this one- big time. And now we are all about to pay the price. If you are a big time blogger with millions of followers, you are good. You are a big business and so you will rarely get hit in your ass by Republicans. But if you are an upstart blogger who pays for your “microphone” so you can say whatever the hell you want to say, however the hell you want to say it, the world is about to change for you- big time.
When Net-Neutrality is repealed the content of your site can be outright blocked by a carrier or just slowed down to a level that makes it inaccessible to all but your most committed readers. And you won’t have many after a while because we have all gotten used to a certain level of speed and access over the years. So all of the small blogs are going to die unless they can sell themselves to a big operator- and there goes the freedom that so many of us love about blogging.
We will become corporate slugs- saying only what we feel like we can get the Huffington Post to pick up. And I love the Huffington Post but I can be a foul mouthed guy sometimes. I select profane language from time to time to punctuate a point that I feel strongly about despite the fact that I have an expansive vocabulary compared to most people. And I could be weaving magic with my words but big blogs are just not going to be bothered with the headache of publishing a guy like me because the juice just ain’t worth the squeeze. I have come to accept that and just do my thing my way and let the chips fall because I can survive. I still have a filed to play on.
Of course, being an upstart blogger who covers politics myself this hits very close to home. But I am not delusional. Neither Verizon nor AT&T knows who the f*ck I am and they don’t care. What they care about is that now they can get their greedy grubby hands on Amazon, YouTube and Netflix’s money. That my friends is the prize. The independent guys with the small but sturdy audiences are just collateral damage. The big communications conglomerates have been pissed off for the longest time about how YouTube and Netflix have f*cked up their a-la-carte content business model and now they have the means for some major get back. Here is what it will look like:
They are about to take a big bite out of their asses now- but not big enough to kill them. They need them to keep producing so they can keep sucking their blood. Meanwhile, all of us will be getting nickeled and dimed to death- paying a fee for every little thing we do that they don’t decide to just let us have for free.
This really sucks- and make no mistake about it, this is all our own damned fault. Elections have consequences. Had Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 electoral college and not just the popular vote we would not even be here. So all of the young folks who sat out the election under the foolish and false pretense that it didn’t matter who won because they bought into false equivalencies are about to find out exactly how much that decision is going to cost them. I’d almost feel sorry for them if they didn’t have this coming because they are far more dependent on Net Neutrality than they realize. Most of them don’t even bother with getting a cable television subscription which sounds crazy to anybody over 35.
But I don’t have time to pity them. I need to be getting myself ready for the New World Order of cyberspace and figuring out my plan to survive. Up until now my focus had been on thriving in an era of political controversy and fluidity. But you have to survive before you can thrive and my very survival in this world is facing grave threats in a hostile terrain.
I encourage all of the other bloggers out there to fasten your seat-belt as tight as you can, put on your helmet and buckle up your chin-strap. It’s about to get rough but if some of us can find a way to survive we can rebuild the information superhighway of free access and unrestricted ideas in a post-Trump-Apocalypse.
Good luck and Godspeed my friends. In the immortal words of Prince, May u live 2 c the dawn. I plan to be on the other side and I hope to see you there.