If you’re a regular WUL reader, you may have noticed that this blog went dark yesterday. I used the SOPA Strike plugin to do so (after testing it as well as a couple of others).
So if you were here yesterday, you’ll remember the splash page that told you why we were dark and which asked you to join the protest.
Now, I’m not your typical “striker” (though you’ve probably figured that out by now). I certainly support several causes, but usually it’s in the form of changing an avatar, helping out with tweets, etc. And I have never had my blog go on strike before.
The last time I went on strike
was when I was in drama school. It was our final year and one of our classmates, who had some personal issues, was in danger of being expelled. We were a class of 21 students, so we knew each other pretty well by that time, and we didn’t feel our classmate deserved to be kicked out a few weeks before graduating… I mean, she ate, lived, breathed theater.
So we went on strike.
We wrote a petition to the Dean (guess who delivered it?), and said that as a class, we refused to do our final exams unless the ax was lifted from our classmate’s neck (figuratively speaking, of course). She’d worked as hard as any of us – harder than some – and we figured she deserved at least to do the exams. If she failed then… well, that was different.
It took three days – and three days is a lifetime when you have just weeks to go, and everyone is getting more and more pissed off at you – but we got our way. Our classmate stayed, did her exams (which were all rescheduled) along with the rest of us. And oh, she passed.
was the strangest protest I ever took part in. I didn’t participate in any kind of rally or physical protest, though plenty of people did. I was able to install the plugin, email my Senators and watch what was happening with a few clicks here and there… all while working from home.
No crowds, no fist-pumping (at least, of the physical kind). I’d log on every now and then to Twitter to see what was going on, to news sites to see if the bill was starting to lose support among our elected “representatives,” and to Facebook, to see what was going on there.
I could view a really interesting board of SOPA resources Beth Kanter was pinning on Pinterest (and also decided to finally start playing with the platform myself, the invite has been sitting in my inbox for long enough). And while everything else was going on, the #factswithoutWikipedia hashtag on Twitter was really funny.
It was extremely solitary in some ways. In fact, it was really… very… strange. And while WUL is absolutely nothing like some of the Web behemoths that led the protest, it meant something to me that I was able, in a small way, to have a voice. I imagine that’s why several thousand other people did the same.
And even though my day itself wasn’t really impacted by Wikipedia, Reddit, etc. going dark, it felt like collectively we were making a difference.
The two protests I’ve taken part in to date have been very different.
And though the mechanics of participation changed dramatically – for me, at least – yesterday reminded me of what it feels like to speak up… or black out… over something you feel strongly about. To make a difference.
However strange it may feel.
You know, there is always so much drama going on in drama school…..it’s amazing anything gets done…
I guess I participated in a round about way; I went to my WordPress account and everything was blacked out. A friend of mine is in the House of Representatives, Dennis Ross and he was originally a supporter. He posted on FB and I think the negative response got his attention. He said SOPA w/out the support from the tech/internet community is like trying to support stopping crime w/out the buy-in from the police.
About the closest I’ve seen a real-live protest was back in the day in college. Apparently we had people from Iran at Florida State Univ and they were protesting the Shah of Iran w/ chants of ‘Kill the Shah, the Shah is a puppet of the US’. I’m thinking ‘huh, really? You are in the south you know………:)’.
Good to see you back from the protest, and I think it worked.
@bdorman264 That’s a great story about Dennis Ross. That’s exactly the kind of thing we need to see more of. And I laughed at your protest story… so what happened to those people?!
I think the awareness that was raised on Wednesday was great. I even got an email back from my Senator – a form email, but still – to which I promptly responded reminding her that she holds her office because of people like me, so she better vote the way we want her to vote. The thing is, we can’t let it drop, because the bill is still up for debate & vote on Tuesday in the Senate, last I heard. We need to keep on with it.
@Shonali For the most part I think people ignored them; I was surprised some rednecks didn’t just go off on them, but Florida State was known more as a liberal school.
I chose FSU because somebody told me the ratio of women to men was 2:1. And sadly to say, that truly was my decision maker……….what can I say?
@bdorman264 At least you’re honest. :p
@voxoptima Thank you for sharing!
I think it’s a sign of the times of how protests have moved from the physical realm to the virtual realm. While I didn’t participate in the SOPA activities yesterday, I was watching and reading about all the activity and noticing how the broadcast media was covering it. I share @Anthony_Rodriguez ‘s concern that it’s only a matter of time for Congress to wait for the wave to pass and then move on SOPA/PIPA anyways.
Quick story about my first physical protest, if I might indulge– I was 18 years old and still in high school when I joined students from the local state college in a protest to keep American Indian Studies Program (I was taking college classes post-secondary in lieu of regular high school classes. Also, this was in rural Minnesota where a program about American Indians was relevant to the area’s history). We marched and picketed in the main commons area of the campus, and I ended up writing about this experience for a college scholarship essay. My mother was horrified that the university I was applying to would reject a little liberal like myself, but wouldn’t you know it– I got the scholarship!
@Krista That is a GREAT story! So … given that you were taking college classes instead of high school classes, I’m guessing you’re a member of Mensa? My guess is that the admissions board admired your chutzpah (and courage in writing about the experience). Good for you.
Like you and @Anthony_Rodriguez I really hope Congress doesn’t wait until things settle down and then go back to doing what they were going to. But there is a huge danger of that, and that’s why I think it’s critical for us to not let people forget about it. After all, PIPA’s up for discussion early next week. That’s one of the things I always worry about with our digital-age attention spans… how long can we focus on something like this when so much else is trying to grab our attention?
It really is fascinating how the digital age facilitates this kind of thing. It’s funny… even though I was physically by myself and it felt strange, as I wrote in my post, there was also a feeling of camaraderie. For example, when I looked at the #factswithoutWikipedia hashtag, it reminded me of how, sometimes, when you’re in very tense situations (like your protest), someone will crack a joke and everyone goes hysterical. I felt a little of that yesterday. It was pretty neat.
Hi @shonali …interesting post. I have never been on overt activist…more like @Anthony_Rodriguez , I have supported causes by petition signing and message passing. This protest has a profound impact on our futures and I am supporting this cause. There is a sweet irony in the fact that the largest ever petition signing was done via the medium that they want to control….that speaks volumes….
@SocialMediaDDS I know, that’s pretty ironic/cool, whichever way you want to look at it, right?
I was curious as to how many bloggers/people I know would support it beyond changing their avatars, which, while certainly not “nothing,” is a fairly passive action to take. I didn’t visit all the blogs I typically do, but I did see a huge spike in awareness and have to call out jasonkonopinski as inspiration, as well as spinsucks – when I saw their newsletter come through yesterday, I was psyched to read they were going dark as well. That kind of thing does make a difference.
Thanks for stopping by, Claudia!
@Shonali@SocialMediaDDSspinsucks Oh wow, I was the inspiration? Well, I’ll be dipped.
The gravity of what SOPA/PIPA represents is something that I don’t lightly at all – so I really wanted to do something that would show exactly what might happen if this pair of bills actually became law. The writers who I respect most in this PR/marketing/social space not only blacked out, but encouraged people to do more with their awareness campaigns, etc. The internet was rowdier than normal yesterday because people were finally, in my opinion, getting it.
At the core of all of this? Until you really get through to the casual content consumers (ha, alliteration!), it’s preaching to the proverbial choir.
@jasonkonopinski Yes, that’s true – about preaching to the choir… but I *think* we’re starting to get through to the CCCs as you put it. :p The question is – will we continue to get through to the point where they are up in arms as well? @SocialMediaDDS
@arodriguez3310 What a thoughtful comment. Thank you!
@shonali No problem. It was something I was thinking about yesterday and your account gave me an outlet for it.
@arodriguez3310 See? Aren’t you glad you went over there? :p
@shonali Totally. You’re now in my favorites list.
@arodriguez3310 Suh-weet. Mission accomplished!
I actually have never really felt compelled to protest anything physically. I have signed plenty of petitions but nothing really beyond that. Maybe it’s because I never felt at the time like I have really ever been directly affected, or sold that I would be directly affected, by the things being protested. I still don’t fully understand the point of the Occupy Wall Street movement or what they hope to gain.
The one thing about this protest that was so successful is it made SOPA/PIPA visible to the masses where other movements have missed the mark. It went from a small level of understanding by some people to reaching an international level of awareness. And it forced the mainstream media which had largely ignored this bill to bring attention to it. This protest showed a direct example of what could happen if the entertainment industry is allowed to become sheriff of the Internet.
There were plenty of people self-censoring themselves to make a point of just how bad SOPA/PIPA would change our right to free speech. Some were snarky in their self-censoring and others redacted so much of their “messages” that is was incomprehensible. But I found that as the day went on, this really started to wear on me.
I’m glad this protest had an enormous effect to increase awareness of this bill and Congress is beginning to back track.
I’m worried though that this is a one time thing and Congress will be back to business as usual hobnobbing with powerful lobbyists in exchanged for financial support to get them re-elected. This has to be the start of the U.S. citizenry to be their own watch dog and not allow the powerful to manipulate at the expense of the weak.
@Anthony_Rodriguez That’s exactly how I am – it takes a LOT for me to actually “protest” something.
I thought the SOPA/PIPA protest did exactly what it was meant to do – raise awareness and get people like me to do something. And I totally hear you on the “back to business as usual” concern… I guess it’s up to us to make sure they don’t, at least on this issue? Because, let’s face it, politicians are going to do what’s not necessarily best for their constituents, but what’s best for themselves. Hence the huge lobbying organizations we have. We put up with a lot, but hopefully we won’t put up with this one.