The internet is an amazing invention and truly defines my generation. Sure, I still use books for research and call my friends on the phone, but having an entire encyclopedia at my fingertips at any moment (thank you, Wikipedia!) or being able to send a friend a quick IM have become indispensable parts of my life. Let me put it this way: I've been awake for less then two hours, and I've already tried to get on Wikipedia four or five times, simply because using that website has become a habit for me.
Imagine not being able to read a Wikipedia article because someone in the government said you couldn't. Imagine certain searches not being allowed on Google. Imagine Facebook monitoring what you can and can't post to your friends' walls (or timelines, if you've switched over to that). Imagine bloggers who can only post reviews that are approved by the company that they're reviewing.
Basically, imagine an internet that's totally different from the internet we use today. The total freedom that I take for granted every single day will be gone, and instead we'll have information that's been filtered through the government. No, SOPA and PIPA won't hand over control of all of the internet to the government as soon as they're passed. These bills have more to do with pirating and copyright issues than with total control of information, and if passed, they might not even effect you at all.
The problem is this: if we pass SOPA and PIPA, then we open the doors for a harsher censorship bill next time. If we cross the line from "totally uncensored" to "just a tiny little bit censored," we've still crossed the line. And maybe, after these bills are passed, all of the things that you love on the internet will remain untouched.
But maybe not.
Today, January 18th, 2012, websites all across the internet are protesting these bills. If you want to join in or just learn more about SOPA and PIPA, please visit sopastrike.com and consider joining the strike, posting on Facebook or your blog, or tweeting about SOPA.
"Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas."
-Alfred Whitney Griswold, New York Times, 24 February 1959