With all the news circulating about gun control, school shootings, healthcare, racism, marginalization, and data leaks (yes, Facebook, I'm talking about you), it seems an incredulous task to focus our attention on a single news story, a single issue, but also impossible to know everything about all the threads that make up our modern American life. What is the biggest problem? What affects all of us?
Unfortunately, I cannot tell you what that answer is, and I assume it is different for everyone. Nobody's life is more important than anyone else's, and all issues--such as healthcare, gun control, education changes, and security--are all vital. One thing that impacts our ability to choose, however, is the availability of information, specifically free availability of information. And not to freak anyone out or anything, but in the United States, this accessibility of information is getting more and more limited, and it could not be at a worse time with our attention fractured into so many different places.
Essentially, this melodrama began, personally, yesterday morning. Like usual, I was procrastinating my schoolwork and decided that watching John Oliver would make me feel even better. From Ireland, the repeal of net neutrality in the USA hadn't really affected me yet. However, my school VPN--which allows me to access certain academic articles that help me do my school work, makes my computer think I am in New Jersey--read, America. So, when I typed John Oliver into the YouTube search bar, I was confused when it wouldn't load any of his videos. My wifi was connected, so what was up?Just out of curiosity, I clicked on a random video--cats, fittingly enough--to check if this problem was widespread across YouTube.
It wasn't. What video was I trying to watch? John Oliver's video on the NRA, and his videos on Trump and the Italian election. The scariest thing, however, was when I disconnected from the VPN, all these videos loaded like a charm. When the internet thought I was in Ireland, I was able to access whatever video I wanted...But if I was in the US, I wasn't able to access Oliver's videos.
The important thing is not that John Oliver's videos are the ones being slowed. In fact, he's a comedian and not an objective source that simply tells the news. However, it is important because he spreads a certain view and is a supporter of free speech. So let me ask you: It may be Oliver's videos today, but what is it tomorrow? There are plenty of wealthy people in our country who are interested in asserting their views and suppressing the other side. And even if you are not liberal and you hate John Oliver, this should still concern you. Maybe next time, it will be you who cannot access your group's ideologies--conservatives aren't the only rich ones. Remember, nothing hurts more than being cut off from the rest of your group.