I’m a 16-year-old nerd who cares about the internet, and wants to preserve its future. If you care about it too, publish this essay!

I am going to be very clear. Net neutrality is vital to modern America. The first thing you need to understand is that internet access is not something for rich people only. People from all kinds of financial situations use the internet for many reasons. The need of the many outweigh the wants of the few, and a great many people will be negatively affected if net neutrality is repealed.

Online businesses

If net neutrality is repealed, online businesses will lose a large portion of their customer base. This will seriously affect both small entrepreneurs and large businesses like Amazon or eBay. This will inevitably lead to massive layoffs, which will impact the quality of life for a great many citizens. Furthermore, there are thousands of young people who primarily make a living off of creative work on the internet, such as artists, YouTube creators, musicians and writers. The repealing of net neutrality would have a far greater impact on them, leaving countless young people unable to support themselves. 

Activists

If given the chance, major corporations can and will work to censor, block and suppress information that could reflect negatively on them or with which they disagree. Knowledge is power, and as Americans we have the right to both spread and access information without being censored by corporations. The repeal of net neutrality opens up an avenue for companies like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T to violate our right to free speech. There are already many accounts of these companies trying to throttle consumers into conforming to their agenda. Even now, the owners of Verizon are trying to suppress discussion and support of net neutrality on their popular website Tumblr. Suppression is a big step on the dark road to fascism, and as a part of the new generation, seeing my country go down that path is deeply frightening. 

Students

Like it or not, the internet is now inextricably connected to education in America. I am a sophomore in high school, and since fifth grade, I don’t think I’ve ever had a class that didn’t require internet access in some way. If net neutrality is repealed, already underfunded schools would be unable to afford internet services. This in turn would create a permanent underclass of people with limited access to critical information. The U.S. ranks only 14th in education worldwide, and lack of internet services would exacerbate the problem. Poor education leads to a lack of qualified workers in important fields such as medicine.

Individual quality of life

Above all, the most important function of the internet is to connect people. Online, people of all races, genders, religions, and sexualities can have a safe place to express themselves and make connections that can last a lifetime. Online communities are like nothing our society has ever seen before. Instant communication has allowed the formation of like-minded communities both large and small.

For example, my passion for natural history led me to many wonderful people, whom I have grown to love. To be unable to communicate with them because they cannot pay to use our primary social media site would be heartbreaking. Nobody deserves to be cut off from others like this, just to benefit large corporations. It’s simply not ethical.

When it comes to interaction with other human beings, every single person, no matter their financial situation, is entitled to the freedom to socialize as they choose. Making certain websites cost extra money can severely limit people’s access to online communities. We are a social species, and the ability to interact with like-minded individuals is a human right. Humans evolved to communicate, and we should be able to do so with as little outside interference as possible. 

Rebecca “FeliFeathers” Friedman is a resident of River Forest.

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