by Omar Avalos |
Earlier this week, Kim Kardashian posed for Paper Magazine in what they called an attempt to “Break the Internet”. I was able to go about my day without any internet problems, so its safe to say that Kim didn’t quite accomplish her goal. However, for many days my social media feeds were filled with people either bashing or defending the reality TV star.
But this blog isn’t about whether or not Kims derriere is real, or if a mom should be posing in that manner. Instead, I want to shift the attention to Kim’s goal of breaking the Internet. Sure, her pictures may have surprised the Internet, but they came far from doing any real damage to our online world. The scary part? There’s actual things out there that can come very close to breaking the Internet as we know it. I’ll outline some topics that can make or break the Internet, while explaining how they affect society and our very own Kim Kardashian.
The Internet was founded on one principle: all information must be treated equally no matter the origin. This “all things are equal” standard has allowed the Internet to become a true representation of Humanity. For perspective, the tweet a 13 year-old in North Carolina posts potentially can have has as much power as the tweet of a certain Kardashian with a 25 million following – and thats a good thing! However, the principle of Net Neutrality has been threatened by the big Internet Service Providers (ISP) who want to control how and what we browse online.
When you take away Net Neutrality, your ISP could potentially block whatever websites they don’t want you to access. It could also mean that your ISP could create “fast-lanes” and charge companies for access to them, like Comcast did to Netflix earlier this year. For Kim Kardashian, this could mean that ISP’s like Comcast could block the public from accessing her content. Picture seems too racy? Comcast could block their customers from ever having access to said picture – a direct threat to the original “all things are equal” standard.
INTERNET AS A UTILITY, NOT A LUXURY
When the world was introduced to the internet only a couple of decades ago, it was seen as a luxury that people could enjoy on their freetime. Before Amazon, before smartphones, before social media, we saw the Internet as a place we only visited on our chunky desktops with a slow Internet Explorer browser. In 2014, the Internet is a much different beast than it was then. We live the Internet, we breathe the Internet, and we can’t imagine what the world would be without the Internet.
On November 10, 2014 via a video statement, Obama urged the FCC to recognize the Internet as a utility so that the agency could easily protect net neutrality. What does the Internet becoming a utility mean for us? There are 4 main points:
- No Blocking: ISP’s like Comcast can’t block websites they don’t want you to access
- No Throttling: All sites would load at the same time and none would receive special “fast lane” access if they pay more.
- Transparency: The FCC would be regulating the business decisions Comcast and other ISP’s make, so they can prevent any fishy business.
- No Paid-Prioritization: Sites can’t pay more to get faster speeds.
The Internet is no longer a luxury, it’s a basic human necessity. We work from home online, depend on e-mail for communication, and we can research any topic without having to go to the library. With the Internet becoming a utility, Kim Kardashian can rest assured that her pictures and videos are being enjoyed by everyone equally. The Internet as a utility also means cheaper prices for consumers, which means that Kim could get more people to see her pictures or play her new freemium game.
SEXISM ON THE INTERNET
The way men and women are treated by society has been a long-running conversation on equality. We’ve made huge strides for women in areas like the pay-gap, feminism, and in the future maybe even the presidency. However, this progress unfortunately disappears when we enter the online world. The WHOA Organization (Working to Halt Online Abuse) reports that out of all online abuse reports, 60% are from women. Seems like an unusually high number right? Looking back at incidents that happened in just this year alone, it’s not too hard to believe.
The Fappening, where a hacker collective stole and distributed the photos of numerous celebrities, was unsurprisingly focused on female starlets. There was also the #GamerGate incident, which centered around misogyny and harassment in video game culture (a male dominated industry). Women journalists were threatened and abused online just for supporting the diversification of the gaming culture. Kim herself has been victim to sexism on the Internet, you can see it in the comments left on her racy pictures compared to those of Nick Jonas when he showed the world his junk:
We still have a long road ahead of us in terms of equality, both online and in the real world. It’s important for us to look back and learn from our history, or else we’re doomed to repeat it.
WORLD 39% WIDE WEB
When the Internet was introduced, the goal was to connect individuals all over the world, hence the “World Wide” portion of the name. Currently the Internet is available to only 39% of the world population, far from the goal of being truly global. If Kim Kardashian wants to break the Internet, she’s going to have to get the other 4-billion people online first. Of course she can’t do this herself. Luckily, there are companies out there working hard to give third-world countries reliable Internet access.
Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and Space X, has recently joined other tech companies looking to bring the Internet to those who currently do not have access to it. He plans on launching hundreds of micro-satellites that can beam Internet access to the entire Earth’s surface. Other examples like Google’s Project Loon, Facebook’sInternet drones, and Project Ara are all aiming to put the “World Wide” in World Wide Web. Having the whole world online will be our new renaissance, and celebrities like Kim Kardashian can benefit from the increased exposure.
The Internet as a whole is a bipartisan issue. It doesn’t matter if you’re white, black, gay, straight, handicap, poor, or rich – you access the Internet the same way everyone else does. This also means that no matter where you’re coming from, issues surrounding the internet directly affect you as well! I’m fully aware that Kim Kardashian didn’t literally intend to “break the internet”, but I see this as a good opportunity to begin the conversation around the current flaws of the online world. Instead of breaking the Internet, lets all come together and fix it.