When the FCC first announced that they were thinking of doing away with Net Neutrality, I outlined a week of posts on the subject for you because this is a BIG FAT HAIRY DEAL for us online sellers. Net Neutrality is essential for us to run our businesses on the web as we do now. But a bad combo of personal stuff and other commitments means we’re nearly out of time and I never got to share any of those articles. But there are a few hours left before they make this decision so I’m going to very quickly write this up. For a more comprehensive overview of exactly what is at stake, I recommend this site.
Yes, you want Net Neutrality. I know the ISPs and other companies that benefit from doing away with the free and open internet have put out a ton of disinformation until you find yourself thinking this is some political thing and if “they” are for it then shouldn’t I be against it but don’t let them get you mixed up. Net Neutrality is what guarantees everyone equal internet access across the board and the opposite means limiting anything from bandwidth to sites themselves and extra charges. Opposite of free and open means fees and closed and that’s not good for anybody but the internet providers.
They want to be able to divide the internet up into paid package like your cable company does. Have you ever interacted with your cable company? Witnessed all their billing BS? Um… do you really want THAT hell for the internet? Yeah, neither do I. No one does.
So what can you do? Get on the phone. Call the FCC. Call your representatives in congress. (Phone numbers and suggestions on what to say here.) Yes, you have to actually call them. I know, it’s annoying, but that’s exactly why it works… most people are too lazy to do it. If you call outside of normal business hours you’ll just go to voicemail so you don’t even have to talk to a human. And, if a human does answer, you don’t have to sound intelligent or wax poetic or anything. They are literally just keeping a count of who calls for where they stand so short and sweet is just fine.
Can’t get through on the phones? If the mailbox is full or a phone call is out of the question for another reason, text RESIST to 50409. That’s a free handy little bot that will fax your representatives whatever message you want to write. Text it a quick note about maintaining net neutrality and supporting the strong oversight of ISPs and they’ll take care of the rest.
Can we stop this thing from happening? Honestly, I have no idea. We are living in such absolutely batcrap wild times right now, nothing is certain. And maybe, even if they do strip the protections, the corporations will turn out to be good and benevolent and reject extra profit and do the right thing just for the love of bunnies or something. The future is a big unknown. But as this one vote puts our entire livelihoods on the line, it’s absolutely worth it to do everything we can to at least try and save ecommerce as we know it while we still have the chance. For online sellers, this is our Waterloo. No matter what happens tomorrow, we must make this last stand and at least try to save these businesses we worked so hard to build before we’re at the mercy of giant corporations and their paywall whims and pursuit of profit.
The thing I keep coming back to is that we were all able to grab our little pieces of the American dream in the early days of sites like eBay exactly because we had a free and open internet. A neutral internet. Because we had the same resources as anyone else to build our businesses, even though I was just at 17 year old with a noisy dial-up modem, I could compete with major corporations when it came to selling online. It leveled the playing field just enough to give us a chance and look at where we are now! But if the playing field is stacked and it becomes harder and more expensive for us to sell and customers to find us, this already difficult ecommerce game will become even harder. I don’t know about you, but I worked too damn hard to build my business up into what it is today to watch it get crippled in a stupid money grab.
So, please, take a minute a make the call. Send a text too if you can. Those protections are there to protect people like us and we can’t let them strip them from us without a fight!