Feb 27, 2018

An Independent Income Scheme, Russian Influence and Net Neutrality

A while ago somehow my computer found out my age. And I started seeing these bait-click ads on the side of websites I was looking at, “What to know when you’re 24!” “How to manage your money at 24!!” “Ways to save at 24!” “Relationship advice for 24 yr-olds!” They suddenly knew my age and that my love life was stagnant.
And I was seeing these at a particularly low point in my… earnings. I kept telling myself, “Oh, they think they’re gonna get me with this one, don’t they.” And “Don’t click on it, Parisa, don’t click on it, IT’S A SCAM.”
But then one day, the Facebook Newsfeed was only showing me things I couldn’t care less about, which actively depressed me, instead of all the stuff from the people I care about, which it always seems to try to hide from me. And one of those penny hoarder bait-click ads popped up on the side and I was just like “f*ck it,” and I clicked on it.  “24 ways to make more money at 24!”
I feel like the easy and fast progression of these events is indicative of Russian influence on Facebook.
The place it took me to made my computer hyperventilate but I figured as long as I was already there, and ready for pop-ups, I might as well read this fluffed-up list.
A lot of the things were really basic, like “get a job, have more than one bank account,” but then I ran across this one, “set up an independent income scheme,” and I was instantly captured by that idea.
I carefully read the paragraph under that headline four or five times before I noticed that they really weren’t telling you how to set up an independent income scheme, they were just saying, “yo, this is a super good idea, dude, def get on it, man, get started now!” Which I was pretty disgruntled by. I mean, what the f*ck is an independent income scheme and how the hell do I get in on one!? It sounds awesome and only mildly illegal. That is exactly up my alley. 
It just sounds too great, an independent income scheme. That sounds like money that you would have to do very little work for, that would somehow appear, independently.
I am all about that. Even if, I still don’t exactly know what it is.
I’m not even convinced that whoever wrote the bait-click-fluff piece even knew what it was, since there was no definitive description, example or explanation in that paragraph I read over and over again. It was just like, “an independent income scheme is a great way to independently pad your income!”
The word that really catches my interest here is “scheme”…. I like that word. I like that word a lot. I especially like it in phrases like pyramid scheme, and profit sharing scheme. Ponzi scheme. Color scheme.
In my eyes, the word scheme can do no wrong. It can only be beneficial to you, otherwise it would be called something else, like plan or system. That’s when you know you’ve got the short end of the stick. When, instead of using nefarious sounding words, they use words that make it seem a lot less active and more of a communal, friendly effort, because that’s how they trick you into participating in their scheme. Or system. You didn’t come up with that idea, and it doesn’t really benefit you, but as long as it’s called “a system,” then it’s fine, you’ll participate in it and won’t really notice anything wrong. It’s only when it’s called a scheme that people’s ears perk up and they’re like, “Uh, wait, who exactly is this benefitting?”

A real-world, real-American example I can think of that relates to this is the tax plan President Trump has… “thought” of.  There’s a lot of literature circling about how this tax plan is for everyone and is going to be a great thing! I think if we switched the word “plan” with the word “scheme,” everyone would be a lot more suspicious of this tax reform.  President Trump recently called it a great gift to the middle class, and yes, it’s a great gift. Just like the Trojan Horse was a great gift to Troy…a city that was then sacked by the invading Greeks hiding inside.
            You’re probably wondering, how does this relate to net neutrality?
            The answer is simple and yet strangely complicated. If you are out to make hordes of money for yourself and think that certain people, people who aren’t you, deserve to be at the bottom, to be ranked below other human beings, you probably won’t agree with me, but I believe the internet is a resource for everyone, like water or air. In many other countries and in some places in this country, internet and Wi-Fi is purchased by towns, for the whole town and free to connect to if you reside in the city limits. That’s because internet access is considered one of those tools that modern life cannot function without. Like literacy. All around the world there are programs like these, called wireless community networks or wireless community projects, working to make the internet accessible and controlled by the people who are using it, not a company that’s only purpose is to make money.
            Without laws protecting net neutrality, there’s nothing to stop providers from blocking certain websites or charging for higher-quality service or content. It also means that the federal government will no longer regulate high-speed internet delivery like they do utilities such as phone service.  Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and given that position by Pres. Trump, claimed that striking down net neutrality would eventually benefit consumers (somehow), but mostly talked about how limiting these government regulations have been to telecom providers’ business.
Yes, it is limiting when a major company, one of only about five across a country with a population of 323.1 million, can’t take advantage of people the way it really wants to. Never mind that many of those people already have no choice about who their providers are because of the natural monopoly companies hold when there simply is no other company available in the area.
How could telecom conglomerates expand beyond a monopoly, if that is what they already have?  Without the F.C.C. to oversee the behavior of these companies, it will be easier for them to charge people more money for less service. They would be able to come up with tiers of service so that only consumers with the ability to pay would be able to use the fastest internet. Or maybe only consumers in the higher tiers would be able to stream, visit certain websites, or upload efficiently. This would inherently control the content of the internet.
In 2012 at the London summer Olympics, the man who invented the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, stood up and typed out “This is for everyone.”   It’s ironic, since now we have given the ability to decide just who that “everyone” is directly to the companies that already control access. This essentially also gives control over internet content to big money, conglomerates and other powers that are invisible to us as consumers. Without net neutrality, there is no way to guarantee our safety online and the protection of our online civil liberties. There’s no way to protect free speech, if there’s no defense against censorship at the most basic level.

The Russians have already gotten to Facebook, the 2016 election, and our president. Internet neutrality is the modern manifestation of the spirit of our constitution. Let’s protect our freedom from the Russians. And by Russians, I mean Vladimir Putin, purportedly a great friend of Donald Trump.
It’s unfortunate that Donald Trump is not a friend of the American people.

Here Donald Trump claims that he would have rushed in to save the students and teachers of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School from the gunman with an assault weapon even if he was unarmed. Donald Trump, who dodged the draft in 1968 because his feet hurt.

Some more links you might enjoy:
The Constitution. Our Constitution. Which our president is strangely unfamiliar with.

We need net-neutrality, if only to hold companies accountable for fostering online environments where fake news and propaganda flourish in a hidden mode of production. 

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