Get this. Apparently the government can “turn off” the internet. I mean, not like a light, but if they really, really wanted to they could do it.
This idea seems unfathomable. We often picture the internet as being this ethereal, invincible ecosystem which seems to float around us like air, when really it’s just copper wires (or optic fibre for the lucky few) and servers. These are very much physical objects which need to be maintained by people, and without which the internet would cease to exist. But because modern society relies so heavily on the internet functioning, if it were to fail catastrophically the entire modern world would fall into chaos. If someone hacking a Twitter account and falsely stating that the White House had been blown up can cause billions of dollars to disappear from the stock market, imagine what the internet disappearing would do.
We are, then, beholden to our governments. If they control the internet, they control us. As Rushkoff states, “The Internet as built will always be subject to top-down government control and domination by the biggest corporations,” so he suggests creating a “fork” in the web-sphere which would give control of the internet back to the people. This would, however, require a brand new infrastructure (which would of course be prohibitively expensive), but could theoretically facilitate the restoration of true peer-to-peer commerce through a newly networked social media landscape.
Anonymous likes to think they have control over the internet. But if their governments didn’t dig those trenches and plant those wires, and if those corporations didn’t shoot those satellites into orbit, then there would be no internet. Activism would have to be done the old fashioned way with rallies, protests, posters and signs… Good ol’ fashioned elbow grease.
We are now conditioned to fight our fights behind the anonymity of a computer screen.
Rushkoff, D 2011, ‘The Evolution Will Be Socialised’, viewed 8th May 2013, http://www.shareable.net/blog/the-evolution-will-be-socialized