Around the time of the last, major Iranian protest, a question was created and tossed into the world. Is access to the Internet a human right? People actually thought about that question as if the answer could be anything but, “hell no.” Ugh. You’re going to make me explain why the Internet isn’t a basic human right, aren’t you? Sigh. Fine. Ok, here is how Basic Human Rights work. If you are born with it, than it is your right to have. Freedom is a good one. Every human should have the right to free will. Every human should have the right to marry who they want (even though some still can’t). Every human should have the right to an open and just trail (even though that doesn’t always happen). And every human should have the ability to make decisions about themselves and their bodies (even though some people disagree about that). A human being doesn’t have the right to Google “Can Dogs see color?” or “Naked Britney Spears.” When the bombs drop, and all our toys are damaged, our basic human rights will still be there. Even if we can’t find out sports scores in three seconds.
I bring this up for two reasons. First, a conversation I had with my students today about Plagiarism and, second, the Facebook redesign. Let’s talk about my students first.
“It’s not fair to ask us to go to the Internet for information and then punish us for using the information we find on the Internet,” one of my students told me during a discussion on plagiarism. It was a great discussion, mainly because we actually, you know, discussed.
“Hmmmm,” I said. I do that when I am thinking. Or when I want them to think I’m thinking.
“I mean, what about common knowledge?” He asked.
“If it’s on Google, it’s common knowledge?” I asked them. Yes, they yelled. And I suddenly understood them more. To me, I only know what is in my head. My knowledge is limited to what exists in my brain. To them, knowledge exists outside of them as well. As long as the Internet is there, their brains are connected to it. They have basically always had it, and it isn’t going away. It is strange to think of it like that, but that is the future. To young people, the Internet is an extension of their actual brains. This doesn’t make them stupid. When I want to hang a picture, I use a hammer. I would be stupid to use my hands. They see the internet as a tool, something that will never go away and they can relay on.
Some people also see the Internet as a…a…uh…I’m not sure what the hell Facebook is anyway. You know, I’ve never really thought of it. If I had to, and I guess I have to, I would think of it as a club. Yeah. That’s a good one. Facebook is a big club. A dance club, if you will. Maybe even a bar. And people go to Facebook to have fun. And damn anything that gets in the way of people having fun on Facebook, including Facebook. Today, said Facebook redesigned itself because, uh, I’m not sure. Probably because they thought they should. I mean, I do that sometimes. I’m at home. We’ve had the furniture in the same place forever. Let’s move it! So we move it and then we realize we never moved the furniture around because there is only one place the couch can go and that’s by that long wall over there. I don’t think Facebook actually thinks of their changes, though. I honestly think they don’t care. Facebook properly thinks that Facebook is so blessed amazing that they could take a shit on every front door of every home in America and every American would ask for, and then demand, for more shit. However, the collective moan today was that the Facebook redesign is a horrible, horrible thing. But, I mean, can we be real? Complaining about a Facebook redesign is just as bad, or worse, as a student using Wikipedia as a source in a paper. When did the Internet become a the fixation, the focus, the very thing we use to breathe air? Was there a life before the Internet? Will there be one after? And if there is a life after the Internet, will the life be worth living? These are questions I don’t even want to know the answers to. The irony is that, without the system I’m criticizing, I couldn’t criticize it.
The very thought of one day not knowing what Betty from 6th grade Algebra thinks about the new episode of Glee is too depressing of a thought to hold in my head for too long.
That was sarcasm, by the way.