In class we discussed the controversy surrounding Net Neutrality. With the impending decision by the FCC, politicians and websites have urged citizens to take a stance. They have done so through a myriad of media advocating for their side. Large Internet service providers, such as Verizon and Comcast, have tried to appeal to the ideologies of the free market system to back up their claim. For advocates of Net Neutrality, they have utilized hyperbolic statements about tyranny and the loss of liberty.
Although both sides of the debate have predominantly tried to appeal to the politics of the American people, it hasn’t been decisively effective. So if we want to open up a fruitful discourse about Net Neutrality, politics may not be the way to get peoples attention. And what gets most people’s attention this time of year, and this upcoming week in particular? Shopping. The sometimes-violent frenzies at shopping malls on Black Friday depict American’s hunger to get the best deal possible. Bargain hunting has become a rush and reward, and shoppers are not finding the best deals in brick and mortar stores anymore. As a medium for sales, the Internet has increased in popularity for consumers. Economists report that the drop in Black Friday sales would be made up by Cyber Monday. The chart below is a projection of the percentages of sales made on Cyber Monday.
The increase in online shopping, unknowingly, puts consumers in the middle of the battle for Net Neutrality. Here’s how: many of the Cyber Monday deals are given to shoppers that can click the mouse first and scoop up the reduced priced goods. However if the service providers can throttle websites like Amazon’s servers, any Amazon user that tries to purchase an item will not be quite as fast. In is this game of seconds, throttling can mean the difference between getting that 50-inch flat screen at 60% off to only 20%. If Net Neutrality proponents can make the case that it would affect everybody’s pocketbooks, they would have a much better chance at pushing the public’s awareness and outrage over the issue.
Ultimately, revoking Net Neutrality can affect the bottom lines for consumers and companies. This puts a seasonal spin on the issue and will show how far the implications of Net Neutrality are. Although this is a tenuous and merely correlational approach to the issue, it can lead to a larger and broader discussion about a free Internet. Personally, I enjoyed the video that we made in class, with its gotcha journalism, but sadly too many Americans have little interest in politics to seek it out. And as a major tenant of precise rhetoric, knowing the audience is integral to persuasion. Thus a light and popular video or article about holiday shopping and Net Neutrality would be the bait to lure in prospective supporters. As well, bringing these two things together plays on one of the fundamentals for all rhetoric: kairos. An announcement concerning Cyber Monday in June would not be very helpful, but a well-timed article in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday would most likely rile up prospective buyers.
As earlier stated, Net Neutrality unknowingly affects many consumers, so any rhetoric should strive to include them. Essentially, it would be powerful to redirect all of the energy spent on Black Friday to activism against the ISP’s and FCC. Even though the plan may be circumstantial, it, nonetheless, highlights the need for Net Neutrality in a myriad of situations.