The massive coordination of Internet titans to block millions of Americans from web content they rely on in modern America as part of today's anti-SOPA blackout should remind us of two things:
1) More and more progressives and young people increasingly think, as Republicans justify with the Senate filibuster, that obstructing the system is a suitable way to get what you want rather than working the system through measures like electoral politics that are quite winnable with an honest effort by grassroots campaigns. A far cry from the lesson of 2008.
2) Silicon Valley and other technology companies have more power over us than any Hollywood mogul. In terms of influence over our lives they are the 1% of the 1%. Americans need Google, Facebook and Twitter to communicate with people EVERY DAY (how many people have phone numbers for ALL their friends these days?) but how many of us NEED to watch the Kardashians or listen to Ke$ha?
I was looking forward to this day being a great moment for awareness for the issue of free speech on the Internet, as we should be concerned about the threat that the owners of social networks and open communities will be held liable for the content of their users, but instead of splash pages that simply tell users to call their Congressman and share SOPA facts with their friends, or blacked out portions of their site like Google smartly has done, many sites (i.e Wikipedia) have done what our government and Hollywood haven't even come close to think of doing yet: a "pre-emptive" strike where they have 100% shut down free speech on their OWN web sites to set a precedent where if tech companies don't get what they want in politics they can suddenly withdraw their content from millions of people.
What is the point of going "nuclear" before a congressional vote is cast? What is the next step in their bag of tricks if it passes the House...shutting down the site for a week or a month? Maybe GOOGLE shuts itself down? The narrative these companies have just re-invigorated is that THEY are interests that need to be regulated not liberated.
This kind of activism is for bomb throwers not real organizers and has a very short shelf life. I know the tactics are similar to those used in the Occupy Movement but have you followed how it has shifted from being a cause for the 99% that got lots of great publicity into a community for the 1% anarchist diehards who might be most to thank for the creation of the cause but have increased their influence as obstructionists not just activists.
So, the question is, are we going to use SOPA as a rallying cry for free speech or as an excuse for hacktivism where people don't respect the system and so they pout when they don't get what they want....even BEFORE they don't get what they want?
Whether it be shutting down your body during a hunger strike, or shutting down a web site, these measures might get headlines but in terms of results will eventually get a #FAIL. If holding your breath until your face turns blue because you don't get what you want doesn't work for 3 year olds, or worse throwing blocks at you when you tell them to go to their room, then why should we recommend it for our political system?
From a community flash mob or rally to a community hashtag or facebook page, movements are best powered by the viral social and media buzz of word-of-mouth messaging not news coverage of arrests from blocking traffic and disruptions caused by online mayhem that are so dramatic that they trump the core message. I have never been excited enough about the way one of those stories presented my cause to share them like I did the non-Colbert Super PAC "Mitt Romney is a Serial Killer" video....so what's the point? How interesting and inspiring is a blacked-out web site in comparison?
In the past week we had the chance to remember the legacies of "Yes We Can" and "I Have A Dream".....I hope the netroots movement will stick with what works and save the fear, anger and obstruction for the opposition. That isn't the game we play and in the end it isn't the game that works.
It's time to fight back with Hope via "Respect. Empower. Include." again....it is the most effective away to win back the Mainstream Majority.
Interested in "forward progressive" Mainstream Majority movement-based messaging and organizing strategies?
FOLLOW ME @ http://twitter.com/...