What repealing net neutrality would mean for me as a working writer — and for you as someone who deserves access to information
On Thursday, December 14th, the FCC will vote on whether or not to repeal net neutrality. This threatens access to free information on the internet — which threatens our access to truth, as well as many people’s livelihoods. Here, one contributor explains how this will impact her career. Read on, and text “RESIST” to 50409 to contact your representatives and fight back.
I hadn’t originally intended to become a writer. Before I began writing, I had given ten years of my young adulthood to a company that taught me a lot about business and life in general. In fact, I would probably still be working there today if it wasn’t for my diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Once it was clear that my body and mental health could no longer take the long hours of a restrictive job, I found myself unemployed for the first time since I was 16.
It was during this unemployment that I joined a book club and met two women; while in the process of getting to know them, I learned that they were both writers. I was instantly interested — writing was one of those professions I had dreamed of pursuing as a young bookworm, after all.
My new friends described how they got started in the business, and I privately made a promise to myself that I would explore the possibility. It took several months to psych myself up and create an account for a freelance work site. I told myself not to get my hopes up, to consider this as just a distraction from the uselessness I felt in unemployment. I told myself that If I didn’t get hired, no big deal.
Except — I got hired. I began writing for various websites within weeks. It started out anonymously and for little pay, but I built up my resume and my reputation. I had to become an expert on all subjects since I never knew what I’d be asked to write about next, and I learned to deliver what the client wanted. What began as a pet project to distract myself from feelings of inadequacy turned into an actual career, one that fulfilled me financially, professionally, and emotionally.
That’s why the upcoming vote on net neutrality gives me such cause for concern.
You may have heard the term before on the news or on social media, but chances are you don’t know just how monumentally harmful the decision to repeal net neutrality will be.
The legislation that protects net neutrality ensures that internet access — and the content found on the internet — is freely and equally available for anyone who uses it. If net neutrality were to be repealed, then internet service providers will be able to dictate what we see can see, when we can see it, and how quick our internet speed is. Once repealed, internet providers would be allowed to charge extra for content: Twitter, Etsy, Amazon, even HelloGiggles. Your internet company could potentially force you to pay a surcharge for monthly access to all of these sites.
As a writer, this will impact me substantially. The internet is not only where my writing lives, but it’s my source of information.
Without free access to the facts, how will I be able to responsibly gather and report the truth?
The internet is also its own economy. If readers aren’t paying extra to see content, then there will be no need for me — and other writers — to write that content. This will limit the points of views that we give voice to, and at a time when we are just now starting to diversify. Not only that, the repeal of net neutrality will limit our opportunities to be informed. Internet companies will obstruct your ability to know the truth by making the truth hard to find. In an era of Fake News and Russian collusion, this is the last thing the public needs.
And it isn’t just my livelihood that is threatened by the repeal of net neutrality.
If you’re a student, a teacher, an artist, or a musician, if you work in IT, own a small business, work with e-commerce, or create online content, then your ability to do your job will be greatly altered as well. And when our individual abilities to make money are impacted, it influences the economy on a larger scale that isn’t even being considered.
It’s important to note that, if net neutrality is repealed, it will be gone forever and the impact will be felt immediately. There’s no going back on this one.
Writing isn’t just my profession now. It has become an outlet for my creativity and an aid for maintaining my mental health. It has given me a sense of purpose that I thought I lost. It exposed my world to new experiences and personalities. To think that, in a few days, I could lose this influential part of my life is overwhelming.
But I’m not going down without a fight, and neither should you.
We can still speak out before the Thursday vote. Contact FCC Chairman Ajit Pai today and urge him not to repeal Net Neutrality. Text “RESIST” to 50409 for more information. Together we can save the internet. Cat memes and all!