The words “net neutrality” have been on fire lately. We hear this phrase spewing from the mouths of countless TV anchors, and we see it in bold on the headlines of major newspapers. But many Americans are still wondering what net neutrality even means. Leave it to the quirky John Oliver to turn this issue into something more digestible with his irresistible, straight-shooting humor.
Since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) suggested a proposal that will change the way we use our precious internet, an uproar has begun. Protesters have been seen in front of the FCC headquarters holding signs that read “keep the internet open,” and critics have shivered at the prospect of an agency being able to regulate internet traffic. And yet, even with all of the attention it’s been receiving, the issue’s true weight was realized by the mass general public only recently.
Why the sudden wave of piqued interest? Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver featured the political satirist taking a stab at the underlying meaning of net neutrality using the same style of dry humor that won him the hearts of Daily Show fans and comedy lovers everywhere. Oliver pokes fun at the media’s portrayal of the issue, suggesting that net neutrality has an uncanny ability: It can simultaneously create confusion and extreme boredom in the minds of everyday Americans.
Oliver did us all a favor by putting net neutrality into simple terms that everyone can understand: Net neutrality “means that all data has to be treated equally, no matter who creates it.” He expressed his concern over the impending net neutrality proposal, stating that “ending net neutrality would allow big companies to buy their way into the fast lane, leaving everyone else in the slow lane.”
Watch Oliver’s rant here:
Basically, we’ve all been enjoying net neutrality without even knowing or appreciating it, and Oliver awoke a sleeping giant by showing the public how these proposed regulation changes would affect them personally. Americans across the nation laughed their way into an understanding of a tricky term, and the video quickly went viral. So viral, in fact, that Oliver’s call for commenters on the FCC’s website created enough traffic to break the site. That’s right, everyone, John Oliver’s call to action broke a government website.
We’ve been experiencing technical difficulties with our comment system due to heavy traffic. We’re working to resolve these issues quickly.
— The FCC (@FCC) June 2, 2014
So, thank you, John Oliver, for teaching us about the dangers of net neutrality — and for creating the first useful (and quite comical in itself) uprising of internet trolls everywhere. There has been no shortage of hilarious tweets taking jabs at the FCC for receiving a taste of their own medicine. So far, it seems to be the gift that keeps on giving.
@FCC Normal government operating speed. This is just one problem we face when massive bureaucracies exercise too much authority over us.
— M K Nordsletten (@EATechV) June 2, 2014
— Jon Daigle (@jondaigle) June 2, 2014