Netflix announced it is willing to play ball with cable companies like Time Warner and traditional communications content providers to provide streaming access to cable subscribers, so what? Your internet provider still sucks. It’s still slow. It’s still likely to go out at any given moment. Tell me football fans, I know the Superbowl is bigger than Christmas, but isn’t there a schizophrenic voice in the back of your head, whispering “they will betray you, your service will go out. You must cover the world in finger paints and paper cuts!” Don’t you dare snicker tech nerd, you’re in the same boat. You know you’re afraid, terrified even, that on the day of your online final exam the router will go into an epileptic fit resulting in a big, fat, F.
But why? Why is it that we have more content options today than ever before—YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Google Everything,–yet we don’t have the infrastructure to support it? Clearly, Google sees this as a problem or they’d have little reason to get into the provider game with Google Fiber.
The truth is simple, exquisitely lazy really. Internet providers suck because they have no impetus to improve. Currently, many Americans get their web juice broadband style, through a copper wire. The technology for faster internet already exists with fiber optic lines. More importantly though, monopolies with little oversight or able to change whatever they want for whatever speed they want. The ISP industry is similar to Big Oil in this regard.
This isn’t the only issue. No, no, no the ramifications of internet suckage are not merely indicative of one writer moaning about first world problems. First world problems are about luxuries and a loss of perspective. First world problems are a mark of the self absorbed. Since the creation of the internet in the 1960s, American, and the rest of the world, has undergone a paradigm shift. In an interview with Bill Moyers, internet provider critic Susan Crawford astutely points out that in the early 2oth century, like the internet of today, “electricity” was “viewed as a luxury.” However, this is no longer the case. The internet, just like electricity, has evolved into a utility.
Many jobs require internet access, but more importantly our education system is becoming increasingly dependent on the internet as a vital component of both the classroom experience and the homework experience. Crawford points out that 19 million Americans in rural areas can’t get access to high speed internet and for an additional 1/3 of Americans high speed access is “too expensive.” Hell, in his article “The Web-Deprived study at McDonalds,” Anton Troianovski, writes that the web-deprived study at McDonalds! Not only does this blur the lines of corporatism and education, making students dependent on fast food joints for completing school assignments, it only fosters more obesity, more type 2 diabetes and more instances of metabolic syndrome in the student populace.
Access, or lack there of, to a utility is a feature of class division and social inequality, a far cry from so-called “first world problems.” More Netflix is always a good thing, but it’s no cure spell for our arthritic internet services, joints warn down by years of suck. Until America restructures corporate law and invests in better hardware, it simply does not matter how many services are available because kids will still be doing homework at McDonalds.
Written By David Arroyo