SOPA – A Wakeup Call for this Generation. On October 26, 2011, Senator Lamar Smith of Texas introduced to the US House of Representatives H.R. 3261, or SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) that awoke young Americans to a potential loss of freedom by going directly to their primary source of information: the Internet. What caused an entire generation to engage as never before? What does it mean to the future of politics, and what can politicians glean from the phenomenon of SOPA? How exactly did SOPA ignite all this outrage, affect the youth, and be defeated so quickly?
SOPA – A Wakeup Call for this Generation – SOPA Equals Censorship
People of all ages, especially including generation Y, rose to action. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and countless other social media outlets were plastered with tweets, status updates, and numerous other means of communication. All decried the infringement of a legislation that would assume control of the Internet.
It was nearly impossible to avoid the topic of SOPA. People who may never have given most political issues a second thought became political activists. It awoke the sleeping giant of America’s young people, who saw their freedoms threatened within the Internet.
Legislation that poses similarly dangerous threats to American liberty often go under-reported and overlooked. What was different about SOPA? It mattered to youth because they view the Internet as the preceding generation might have viewed an interstate or public passage. This generation feels an ownership of the Internet that goes beyond “user.” Young people view the Internet as a home community—it is at the core of their lives.
Word about SOPA spread, and ironically, the websites that most of us know and hit all the time became hubs for its defeat. Wikipedia shut down its entire American website (for one day) in protest. Wikipedia users, (and who is not?) that wanted to use Wikipedia that day got a glimpse of what life would be like without it. Urban Dictionary’s Word of the Day was a negative definition of “SOPA,” also in protest. Websites that the average (especially young) person visits daily were staunchly protesting SOPA. Masses of youth discussed and tweeted the dangers of SOPA, by most counts, more than any other political issue of our time.
The communal and regenerative nature of the Internet caused the outcry to build upon itself. This issue ignited young people by going to the heart of their world. This generation spends more time than ever before on the Internet, and they are willing to engage when it is threatened. People who may never have given most political issues a second thought turned into political activists. There is a marketing, if not a political science stud, in the phenomenon of the whole SOPA experience. The extraordinary public outcry that we saw because of SOPA should be a warning to politicians nationwide; do not mess with our First Amendment/Internet rights. If you threaten the Internet, you threaten opening the Pandora’s Box of outraged, politically engaged young people.
feature image courtesy of bloggermint.com
Courtesy CampusTown.US (www.campustown.us)
SOPA – A Wakeup Call for This Generation.