Flame Wars

X2/X4/2X14

“Tension was in the air today as debate continued to rage on the issue of homosexual union…” the long-haired talking head droned on my TV screen. Unable to control what news I see, her message is what news to pay attention to. Worse, the underlying implication: what news to ignore. The world has, in my eyes, gone to shit in the last seven years since the Universal Citizen Awareness Mandate of 2007.

In a bizarre decision, the United Nations voted unanimously to require the internet-using citizens of all represented (and adequately advanced) countries to post online a certain amount of material on relevant current events. There must have been something in the drinks. But with the release of Windows 9, Ocelot OSC, and Google Chrome 2014, internet access is moderated by posting. Unless you want to recode the entire OS. I know I don’t feel like it.

For those of you scoffing despite living in this reality, I can explain how it works. Posting activity is moderated and an adjustable amount of words as well as certain keywords used is “encouraged,” actually required. Code in your OS signals software on government servers to crawl every textual post you make, checking for aggregate word counts and inclusion of certain words.

The words are from a government-published relevancy list- thousands of words and phrases supposedly encompassing social issues and national interests. These words are known as Awareness Tags. The top of the list? “Fiscal Cliff,” “Atheism,” “War on Drugs” (Marijuana, drugs, etc), “Homosexual Union” (the gay activists lost ground and had to retreat from ‘gay marriage’ to ‘homosexual union’), “Abortion,” and at the very top “Produsage.”

Produsage, the damn word that prompted this movement in 2007, explained in the 2006 book Blogs and Their Uses by Alex Brunze. Brunze was awarded the Nobel Prize in ’06 and in ’07 we get this Citizen Awareness bullshit. What’s not on the US’s Relevancy List? First Amendment violations. Political Pedophile Scandals. CIA Human Rights violations. The napalm wars in South Africa. The ever-living Amazon.

I can tell you’re wondering how the government could “require” people to make these posts. It’s monitored through ISPs. If the sufficient amount of posts, word counts, and awareness tags are not recorded daily, a user’s connection is throttled. The shorter one is of the requirements, the slower their connection is. ISPs are given grants to do this. Besides the fact that most people are not aware of this, every single ISP in the country opted in to this deal, leaving no alternate choices for the informed ones.

The code built into the current mainstream OSes allows the ISPs to do this, as opposed to their previous limited ability to only see a user’s connections. I used to get around the ordeal by running Linux. Since it’s open source and not made by a software giant, it doesn’t have the code built in to alert the ISPs when I’m not meeting the government’s Awareness Standards. This worked for a while and I was able to browse news that matters, such as the aforementioned South African napalm wars. But it didn’t take too long for my ISP to realize that it was getting zero readings from me and shrunk my connection to capillary size. It’s depressingly funny- when I tried to gauge my connection, the reading was a solid 1.5mbs. But I tried torrenting footage from Africa and that was only downloading at 10kbs per second, bandwidth allocation maxed and no others connections active. No wonder we haven’t finished developing streaming video yet. Now my PC is sitting in a closet in the basement.

The new way changed very little. It created a set of three groups of people. There was a moderate increase in posting activity based on the relevancy list. These are the people too dumb to fight the situation and just go along with it. There was a huge increase in flame posts and spam with random awareness tags thrown in. These are the ones too dumb to break the rules without wasting their own time. The third group is the macro kiddies, who use post scheduling software and macros to make enough posts for them without ever having to look at it on sites such as rondoestags.webs.com. It pulls words from a constantly updating database of the top awareness tags, not that the top few ever change much. I could have done this, but I refuse to keep playing these games.

I didn’t appreciate the black-suited fellow showing up at my door to ask me about the conspiracy theorist sites I’ve visited. I welcomed him into my office where any kind of computer was conspicuously absent. He didn’t seem completely satisfied. I thought about asking him when anything was ever going to get done instead of pointless online deliberating, but instead I welcomed him to leave.

I don’t see armed soldiers on street corners like my pa did in Nazi Germany, but I’m wondering when I will. I’d browse some more of that crazy Alex Jones’ Infowars or probe deeper into this napalm war issue if I could get online.

Don Doe

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