Welcome to the first installment of Politically Disabled. Named so partially because I am legitimately disabled, but also because people are paying less and less attention to current events these days. In trolling the net I discovered, much to my chagrin, that there was a startling lack of knowledge about politics, a subject that should actually be close to all of our hearts. To make matters worse, I frequently came across individuals, both online and offline, who were misinformed or had entirely misinterpreted the facts of a given issue. It's becoming an epidemic.
I truly believe that every American should have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the current political environment. Why? Well, the simple answer is because it directly affects your life. Would you purposefully ignore changes to the rules of the road when driving your car? Would you willfully disregard updates to employee procedure when doing your job? Of course you wouldn't because doing so would put you in financial or physical danger. So why would you knowingly ignore the politics of the day when it affects you more than driving and work combined?
Ignoring what's going on in Washington D.C. isn't like clicking "yes" blindly in iTunes. While Apple may charge you a few extra bucks without your permission, iTunes won't be able to bill your children and your children's children for those extra outfits your purchased in Covet Fashion that one night when you had too much to drink and your "girlfriend borrowed your phone." Giving the U.S. Government a pass means that your ancestors might be paying back the interest on a loan you agreed to without even knowing about it. Apple and Washing D.C. do have one thing in common, though -- they both think they know what's best for you, and they take your silence as a ringing endorsement.
The way the government works these days, you have to be a Ph.D. to understand the issues, and even if you do speak up, it's difficult to be absolutely sure you have your ducks in a row. This is where Politically Disabled comes in. I will help to break down anything that you should be aware of, and explain, as simply as possible, the problem at heart. Hate it or love it, that's up to you, but at least you'll be able to make an informed decision. So, without further ado, let's get into the first edition -- how the death of net neutrality may take away your porn.
"Net Neutrality" is actually a poor moniker for the issue, as the changes being proposed would actually put an end to "net neutrality." The debate at the heart of the matter is whether or not the companies that provide Internet service to the masses can charge more to companies or individuals to use more of their total bandwidth. Yeah, I know, it sounds just as confusing as it did before you read this article, so let's make it simple.
Picture the Internet as a winding river. You, as a regular user, wait by your local boat ramp for deliveries from all over that winding river. Now, anyone can deliver their website to you using that winding river to reach your local boat ramp. The ISP (internet service provider) companies are like boat ramps, and whether it's a small website with cat videos or a big company like Netflix, they all use the same winding river to deliver information to you and the same ISP/boat ramp.
If net neutrality becomes a thing of the past, everything will change. Instead of everyone using the same winding river to deliver their website to you, companies who can afford it can build a canal from their location directly to your local boat ramp/ISP. So, now, instead of the small website with cat videos and Netflix delivering information to you on the same winding river, Netflix gets to use a super-wide canal that goes directly to your ISP/boat ramp. Not only does this get the information to you faster, but it also makes it more difficult for the small website with cat videos to get their content to you. This results in longer download times, which means more of that little hourglass we all hate when trying to watch a video.
Of course, this is a simplified version of the issue, but what's really important is that the demise of neutrality is going to affect you, the end user, drastically, and porn is at the top of the hit list.
What's that? You don't partake in triple X entertainment? That line might hold water with your partner, but you and I know that when you have an hour to kill it's straight to your favorite secretly bookmarked site. Except for a few curmudgeons, every red-blooded American male (and one in three females) enjoys a good virtual romp in the hay every now and again, and if you're saying "none of my friends look at porn," well, congratulations -- you're the wet blanket of the group. Even wet blankets can find something to rev their engine these days though, and this wonderful diversity of turn-ons and fetishes is part of what makes The Net great. In addition, the fact that we are allowed to play voyeur to even the most cringe-inducing, high-heel kick-in-the-groin, freaky-makeup-wearing, video clips is one of the most raw expressions of free-speech you can experience in the online age. It's like pure, unrefined, 200-proof first-amendment, mainlined right into your cerebral cortex, and all you need is a basic Internet connection.
This is why we should all be very afraid. If net neutrality falls, then participating in this American rite-of-passage may go the way of the Dodo. Internet pornography viewing makes up 30% of all Internet traffic, and 70% of all males age 18-24 visit porn sites on a monthly basis. I think it's safe to assume that all of these viewers aren't visiting the same website for their fix. In fact, there is something like 24 million different porn websites on the Internet, and the diversity they represent is astounding. Unfortunately, if companies like Comcast and Verizon get their way, then only popular porn sites that can afford to pay will reach users fast, while the rest of the XXX websites will languish in a graveyard called the "Basic Internet." This potentially means that the secret videos you only watch when no one you know is in the same area code might take longer to download, and let's face it -- porn is less like The Indy 500 and more like a drag race. You never know exactly how long you are going to have, and whatever gets you to the finish line fastest is going to win every race. No one sets aside time for "arousing video screening" on their calendar next to the "dog groom" appointment, and if you do then you are the creepy guy everyone talks about.
The Internet and porn go together like peanut butter and jelly, Oreos and milk, and Lindsay Lohan and anyone. This is mainly due to the fact that you can flip your lid watching an all-American cheerleader do her thing one day, and then be weirdly turned on by Belgian furry scat porn on the following day. The diversity of the Internet is its most important feature; integral to its very existence in much the same way as money is to politics. If net neutrality dies, then you will begin to see only the most popular sites take precedence over the smaller, mom-and-pop style web destinations. The Internet will eventually become one never-ending advertisement, and some of nature's most alluring phenomenon, like why college girls are compelled to take their tops off in front of webcams, will end up as just a fairy tale. "Gather around kids! Today, grandpa's going to tell you about the legend of Girls Gone Wild..."