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Day 327 – A Letter to American Internet Users: Net Neutrality and How You Can Protect It.

Day 327 – A Letter to American Internet Users: Net Neutrality and How You Can Protect It.

Photograph by Tim Carter

Dear American Internet Users,

You probably put up with the high cost of your internet service provider, or ISP, (as many of us do) because you can bop around the internet at will. We’re Americans and we like our freedoms. We enjoy access to just about any website 24/7. And there’s the immediacy factor also; we don’t like to wait. The faster the internet, the better. Unfortunately, we Americans are also quite reactionary. We are often apathetic until things get out of hand and then we jump into action, too often too late. I am writing to you today to ask for your quick action on a topic that could squelch your much-loved internet freedom and speed: Net Neutrality.

This week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is voting on whether to change the regulation regarding Net Neutrality so that your ISP has the power to control your access to certain websites. They will also be able to slow the speed of your internet if they so choose. The commission is made up of three Republicans and headed by a Trump appointed Republican named Ajit Pai. It doesn’t look good for our free and speedy lives on the internet. If you are a fan of irony, the FCC has named the proceedings Restoring Internet Freedom, which is somewhere between ridiculous and sad.

My first request is that you get informed. I’ve included a few resources, below, and I suggest you search around for yourself also. When we start mixing technology, politics, economics, capitalism, government bureaucracy, and egos, the truth is elusive. From what I can tell, though, we have taken Net Neutrality for granted and if the FCC allows the ISPs to do what they want, they will. And it won’t be pretty.

A few resources:

I also have a couple actions you can take. The first is to respond directly to the FCC. Here are some fairly straightforward steps for that process that I found on Facebook.

1. Go to    (the shortcut John Oliver made to the hard-to-find FCC comment page)
2. Click on the 17-108 link (Restoring Internet Freedom)
3. Click on “express.”
4. Be sure to hit “ENTER” after you put in your name and info so it registers.
5. In the comment section write, “I strongly support net neutrality backed by Title 2 oversight of ISPs.”
6. Click to submit. Make sure you hit submit at the end!

John Oliver’s piece on net neutrality is worth the watch.

Finally, if you’re feeling a bit more revolutionary, go to the website called Break the Internet. If you scroll down on that page, you’ll find many ways to get involved over the next 48 hours in a phone call avalanche to get the point across to Congress.

I was an apathetic internet user like you at one time. I took the time to learn about the issue, which made me informed and angry. I’m participating in the push to keep Net Neutrality and I hope you will too. Thank you, ahead of time, for your efforts.



Day 116 – This Isn’t Tron, but It Might Be War Games, Mr. President.

Day 116 – This Isn’t Tron, but It Might Be War Games, Mr. President.

Image by Blogtrepreneur

Dear Mr. President,

I wrote the first draft of this letter on the evening of May 14, 2017. By the time it’s due Monday evening, it may not be publishable. Not because I’ll layer in so many curse words that it won’t meet the style guide standards (however tempting that may be), but because we may not have a fully functional internet after a hacking attack locks down thousands or even millions of computers. By “we,” I mean all of us, or at least the entire first-world global society.

You seem to struggle with the concept of “we,” sir, so let me give one small example of why the collective matters. You like Twitter. I like Twitter. A lot of our readers like Twitter. This letter may even be shared on Twitter and possibly retweeted from there. None of that happens without connections among people. The internet doesn’t happen without connections among people and connections among countries. The collective matters, even to you.

The global society is here whether you and your “cuck!”-shouting supporters welcome it or not. “The cyber” is here whether you like it or not. What is not here is Election Day. Put the Electoral College maps away, please, sir. The job started awhile back. We have already passed your self-imposed 90-day deadline for a cybersecurity plan, and you have not announced any such plan. Internal reports suggest there may be no plan in the works. But on Friday, May 12, 2017, the hackers silently announced that they don’t care.

While you tout election maps, hackers shut down computer networks on Friday with ransomware. This meant some hospitals had to close and refuse incoming patients. Even rich people need hospitals sometimes, sir. The collective matters, even to you.

When a loved one dies, the people left behind in mourning slowly realize that the world has continued on around them. It felt like some parts of the American spirit died on Election Day, and we’re now slowly realizing that the world has continued on around us. Right now, this most definitely includes “the cyber.”

Reports suggest the attacks may worsen. We already know the attack spread farther Monday morning when everyone logged on at the beginning of a new workweek. This certainly raises questions about your leadership and your administration. As this cyberattack closes hospitals, that means people may die at least in part because you’re too busy making maps of the Electoral College results instead of actually governing, because governing is hard work because it requires research and reading and reflecting and considering and analyzing and never, never simple knee-jerk reacting.

The cybersecurity concerns continue on regardless of who won the 2016 election. “The cyber” is ready for you, sir. Are you ready to help us? All of us? The collective matters, even to you.



Day 12

Day 12

Image by Morris Armstrong

Dear Mr. President,

You receive a lot of criticism for using Twitter. That is unfair. Blaming Twitter is like blaming a pencil and a piece of paper—Twitter is just a mode of communication. It can be used for just about any sort of discourse. I’ve seen a novelist write a short story one sentence at a time on Twitter, and I’ve also seen base attempts at “conversations” that are really just bullying. You are welcome to use Twitter, Mr. Trump—it could even prove an innovative way for a president to maintain contact with the American people—but I have a serious suggestion for how you use it.

Most people would assume I will, at this point, criticize your own tweets. Rest assured, I, like most Americans, would love to see more reasoned and reasonable commentary from you, but that is not my concern in this letter.

On November 30, 2016, journalist Robert Mackey posted a list on Twitter wherein he recreated your timeline. That is to say, he replicated what you see when you log onto Twitter. It represents a troubling lack of balance or even factual reporting. It is rife with propaganda from the likes of the Drudge Report, and on the days I have checked it, the majority of the tweets are from your own camp (Official Team Trump and Transition 2017 especially).

Given that you do tweet often and have demonstrated that you spend a decent chunk of time on Twitter, this means you’re being subjected to an echo chamber of extreme proportions. Reading and writing are thinking made visible, Mr. Trump, and if you are only reading words from one severely constricted point of view, you are not going to develop the means to assess the world objectively. This is not a personal attack on you–none of us could understand what’s happening at any given moment if we only read hot takes from one slanted point of view. I suppose it goes without saying, but an ability to see matters objectively is an essential element for any leader, whether that’s president of the sixth-grade or president of the USA.

You have stated explicitly in interviews that you’re “too busy to read,” but we know you’re on Twitter. This means it is entirely possible that the only news you receive on a regular basis is from the propaganda machine that is your Twitter timeline.

Mr. Trump, I mean this sincerely: If you were merely a friend or relative, I would implore you to curate a more balanced Twitter timeline. (Heck, I’d suggest ditching all of the “news” sources and just following stand-up comedians before encouraging you to keep your follow list as it is now.) You are not a friend or relative, though. You are the sitting president of the United States of America. You have unparalleled power and reach. Obviously, you must add a balanced range of sources to your Twitter feed, but I also ask that you subscribe to a range of newspapers. Spend even ten minutes per morning skimming the headlines. That alone will give you better coverage than your Twitter timeline.

Also, watching Fox News on television is not broadening the range of news sources. At least four of the forty-one accounts you follow on Twitter are directly from Fox News. You recently tweeted about Chicago and gun violence, but your tweets were almost verbatim from Bill O’Reilly’s show that broadcast an hour before you clicked tweet on your statements. Thirty seconds of independent research would have disproved your tweet. Chicago doesn’t even crack the top ten most violent cities in America, Mr. Trump. If you had a wider range of news sources, you might have seen or read that. I did.

Yes, you are a busy man, but you must be informed. We all are busy, and we all must be informed. If you refuse to spend time reading in depth, at least gather a wider range of headlines to skim. This is, quite literally, the least we can ask of you regarding your relationship with the news. Thank you.



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