29 September 2022

The Internet as a Non-Physical Place

The Internet to me has been and will always be a place. It's a municipal building, a library, a school, a theater, a mall, a park--even a home in some ways. And just like a physical place, it serves different purposes for different people. Some people rarely if ever, use The Internet, like a building you drive by all the time but never visit or visit rarely. You know it's there, you know it serves some sort of purpose, but you don't think about it unless you're looking right at it. For other people, it's a place they go every day. Like your favorite hangout spot, or school, or a store--you congregate here often. The internet is a familiar place you think about often. Love it or hate it, you always come back to it. Some people, well, they live in it. The Internet is their home; the comfort of their bedroom, the delight of a living room or kitchen, and even the discomfort of a bathroom. They're always here. It's so important to you, the idea of not having the internet is comparable to not having a home. All of these people (and more) exist in this place. Since The Internet is a place (or rather a set of places), I believe that all people should have access to it, regardless of their frequency of use. As an anti-capitalist/communist I do not believe in the concept of private property and this extends into The Internet for me.

As in the physical world, I feel it's wrong to have to pay to enter a space or gain full access to a space, I feel it's also wrong to have to pay to enter or experience all features of a website. In-app purchases, subscriptions, paywalls, personal information collection, and the like ruin the experience of the overall Internet and make it inaccessible to everyone. How many times have you been asked to enter personal details (including payment) to gain full or even partial access to a website, video, article or other content? Too many to count, I would guess. I believe that nobody should have to trade money to get into a space--physical or virtual. When businesses or other entities deny people the ability to congregate somewhere, it also denies people the ability to connect to others or explore the natural world, which then keeps us uninterested and unaware of our place in our communities, and the social ills that plague us. This is exactly what happens when site hosts deny Internet users access to online spaces. We miss out on the opportunity to connect with inhabitants of The Internet and explore the cyber world. We also miss out on the ability to learn more about a variety of things. This is unacceptable and it is a direct consequence of corporations taking advantage of our need for knowledge and communication, and using these innate desires to squeeze as much money and ad information out of us as possible.

I don't have a solution for this--at least not one that will immediately end this problem. I will say though, advocating for and supporting the small web, community run websites and/or indie websites is integral to removing at least some of the power these corporations have. The Internet should be treated like public property, not private property.