Waxing UnLyrical went dark on Jan. 18 to strike against SOPAIf 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.

Yesterday’s #SOPAStrike 

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.

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps purpose-driven brands bring big ideas to life. She teaches at The Johns Hopkins University, has gone back to school herself with the Harvard Business Analytics Program, and is creator/lead instructor at The Social PR Virtuoso® online training hub , where ambitious PR pros learn how to unleash their inner Social PR superheroes. Owned by Lola the Basset Hound, she's mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke

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