As a policy SOPA is… well, not so good.
In case you missed it, the Internet had a bit of a flip out on Wednesday. Tweets, blog posts, and videos flooded sites (at least those you could see). Others like Wikipedia and Reddit were blacked out in protest of SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act (and PIPA the Senate equivalent). It’s true, there are a lot of bad things about SOPA, not least of all that it likely just wouldn’t work. But I’m not here to talk to you about that.
What I want to talk about is one really good thing SOPA has highlighted. Seriously.
This week, us no good-apathetic-Internet loving-politically useless of a generation-“slacktivist”-cohort got ourselves together and took action. We were for the most part sitting in chairs, clicking our way toward “political action.” Clicking the same way most of us do every single day. Clicking on links our friends shared, on cool looking graphics, and on videos our friends appear to love. On blackout day, for a lot of us, that became SOPA information. It became inescapable. Even the least politically engaged individual (who is least likely to have friends sharing SOPA related stories) was reached when they clicked that link to Wikipedia after Googling “Mary Tyler Moor” (Hey, its not me – that was your number one “Hot Search” on Google the day previous, America).
All of a sudden politics was in your face. And Google’s “Hot Search” the day of the blackout? Numbers 4, 6 and 7 were all related to SOPA. People were informing themselves (though ironically were unable to get the information from the normal go to source).
What’s more, people were also talking about SOPA and complaining and clicking the send button on emails to their congressmen and women. Garnering attention from the mass media and politicians alike, numerous Representatives flipped (i.e. they went from supporting to opposing SOPA). And us no good-slacktivists got to feel a sense of accomplishment. All that clicking CAN do something. We can be effective political influencers. The question is whether or not we will. What issues we will work together on and what effort we want to put in.
This is the lesson of SOPA.