Wired reported late yesterday, in an article titled in part, “The Internet Wins Again, ” that due to a virulent online backlash, the Susan G. Komen Foundation reversed their decision to halt funding to Planned Parenthood. The Komen Foundation said they’d amend their funding criteria in the interest of what is “fair and right.”
Wired compares the public social media uprising over the Komen issue to the recent Internet protests over SOPA and PIPA, with “the outcry … swiftest and harshest from (and one could argue what spawned the official criticism of the Komen grant restructuring) the general public, who took to the usual social media venues like Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr to express their disbelief and rally others behind them.
“And just like with SOPA and PIPA,” the magazine declares, ” they successfully changed the national conversation.”
While I’m a fan of both the Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood, my feelings are nonetheless mixed about “the Internet winning again, ” and the Internet driving “the national conversation.” Many of the comments on the Wired article are thought provoking.
“What is the message here?” asked one critic. ” Don’t stop donating to PP or else we’ll hack your website and drag your name through the mud? This is straight up gangster.”
“The lesson here is, don’t behave in a hypocritical, amoral manner which pisses off the Internet,” wrote another. ” Don’t make the Internet angry, you wouldn’t like the Internet when it’s angry.”
“Nothing says freedom like forcing a non-profit to give money to another non-profit,” said another.
Putting aside, for the sake of a different argument, the value of both Komen’s and Planned Parenthood’s services and, to me, the personally satisfying result of right wing social conservatism taking a back seat to more promising social progressiveness, do we really want to drive social (and political and economical) policy and decision making this way? How much insightful dialog can several million people all talking at once have in just a couple of days?
“So, there you have it, “Wired declared triumphantly, “the internet is victorious in another massive campaign, this time however, the cause was not the future of the internet itself, but the future of individuals.”
Just Thinking Out Loud here, but would this be the same internet from which hail TAM Airlines stories, and promises of everything from abnormally large genitalia, to million dollar transfers into our personal bank accounts from Nigerian treasuries? Is it Internet with a capital I, for each of us, or internet with a little i, for ignorance?
And the biggest question of all, to my mind, are we in danger of deferring all our big decisions (and the big decisions of other individuals and businesses) to the internet – as if it were a giant international Gong Show, or an amorphous Colosseum? Do we really want to popularly vote thumbs up or thumbs down on important issues, instead of taking the time to engage in the research and measured discussion that makes important decisions important in the first place?
I’m glad that Susan Komen and Planned Parenthood have resumed friendly terms – I think. But I’m not so sure I want “the internet” to win. I’d prefer common sense prevail.