Even if you don't spend all your time online, you've had to have heard about the FCC's desire to repeal net neutrality. Net neutrality is what makes the internet available for all of us to use, regardless of who our internet service provider (ISP) is. The United Nations even ruled net neutrality to be a basic human right in 2003. The loss of net neutrality will be absolutely detrimental to everyone.
Imagine if net neutrality applied to roads - street neutrality, if you will. With street neutrality, you can use whatever road you want or need to, regardless of who you contract to maintain those roads. Without street neutrality, however, the various companies that are contracted to maintain certain roads can charge you outrageous fees to use them - the education bundle for roads near schools, the entertainment bundle for roads near theaters or stadiums, even the basic package for the main roads in town that you can't avoid. Beyond that, they can choose one road over another for you, no matter how inconvenient. Maybe it's faster to get to your destination using the main road, but the company that maintains your street also maintains a longer route to the same place, so you're forced to choose between a longer commute or a higher price.
This sounds absolutely outrageous, right? This is what will happen to the internet if we allow net neutrality to be repealed. this will impact everyone, from schools to hospitals to the news to you as a private citizen.
As a college student, my entire educational life is online. I get and turn in assignments on Blackboard, I do research online through Google, and I contact my professors and project groups online through email or social media. Even in high school, almost everything was online. I'm lucky to go to a private college that would likely fold new internet costs into our already skyrocketing tuition, but things aren't so easy for public school students, especially in low income areas. I had friends in high school who couldn't do or turn in work at home because they didn't have internet access, and it negatively impacted their grades. They couldn't get to school earlier than the bus, and the school and public libraries only stayed open so late. No one should have their access to education impeded like this just because of how much internet they can afford.
Another area that will see impact is healthcare and medical research. I have an unknown heart condition that led to an arrhythmia and cardiac arrest. I'm lucky to be alive. Over a year later, we still have no idea what caused such a traumatic event so early in my life. However, we do know what didn't, because my doctor's (and my mother's) access to new medical research online allowed us to eliminate certain things. Access to medical information online is so crucial, even if you're just looking up how much ibuprofen you can take in a certain amount of time. The internet can also give people access to mental health information or services, such as suicide helplines or tips on how to calm down from a panic attack. Everyone jokes about looking up symptoms online and coming away with a ridiculous answer, but the ability to research symptoms could lead to someone getting medical assistance before an illness or disorder becomes any worse. Unfettered access to the internet can literally save lives.
The largest impact will be seen in the sphere of information. Your different ISPs will be able to control the news that you see. Even now, Tumblr, a popular blogging platform, is trying to prevent its users from accessing information about net neutrality. Users who follow the "net neutrality" tag will find that they are no longer following said tag less than twenty minutes later. Tumblr is owned by Verizon, one of the companies pushing hardest to pass the repeal. Now imagine this situation, but on a larger scale across all platforms. Citizens looking to fact-check certain news sources will find it difficult if not impossible to do so. The repeal of net neutrality will violate both the right to free speech and the right to free press.
All of these possibilities should scare you. Open internet access has been considered a human right for almost fifteen years but the FCC is trying to take that right away from you. Here's how you can fight the repeal:
Contact your Congressional members. if you don't know who represents you, you can find out easily through resistbot. By texting RESIST to 50409, you can get assistance not only finding your representatives, but also contacting them over the phone or through email. Let them know that they will be losing your vote if they support this repeal.
Contact the FCC. The two female members of the council are reportedly against the repeal, but it's still important to reinforce your stance. However, be careful using form letters, as the FCC is reportedly ignoring anything that looks like it was written by a bot - that is, any messages that they receive multiple times from different people. Contact information for the FCC members can be found at https://www.fcc.gov/about/contact.