Opinion: Why Sneaker Culture Should Care About Preserving Net Neutrality
Imagine waking up one Saturday morning, or sitting up until late one night to catch the newest Boost or Ronnie Fieg release. Coffee in hand you verify your credit card, checking account, or PayPal account balance. With time to spare you sit and wait for the designated online release time to arrive. Thirty seconds to release time so you quickly type in the Adidas.com URL and hit enter. Nothing happens. Your computer seems to not respond as if frozen. You double-click on the address bar and retype the website. Nothing. Now it’s two minutes past the selected release time and you’re panicking. Five minutes past and still nothing. Seven minutes past and the three stripes logo begin to appear in the left-hand corner. Eight minutes past and the logo is totally visible. Ten minutes past and the page finally loads, but alas, you’re too late, the shoe is sold out in your size. Reacting quickly you jump to eBay to see if you can maybe salvage the time and catch one of the early resell pairs at a reasonable price. No luck, the page seems frozen again. Another ten minutes and eBay finally loads. Ten more minutes to search. Five minutes to figure out you’ve missed out here too. What you don’t realize is that Adidas now pays AT&T to ensure that their content isn’t slowed down to AT&T customers. eBay has signed a similar agreement with Comcast ensuring Comcast customers have unfettered access to their website. You are a Verizon customer and the only websites you can access without issue, especially during releases, rarely drop anything you’re excited about. This is the thing of nightmares; Sneakerhead nightmares.
The past year has been a whirlwind with releases, but if you haven’t kept abreast of the pending proposal to net neutrality, now is a good time to pay attention. Without boring you with mundane details I’ll give you a quick overview of what net neutrality is. Say you launch a website that sells t-shirts. Net neutrality is what prevents internet providers like Comcast, Verizon, or Time Warner from telling you, “Pay us X amount of dollars or we’ll slow down or block your website”. In a net neutral world, anyone can access any content they wish without fear that the content will be blocked or slowed down. It also ensures that internet providers don’t pick winners and losers in the marketplace by controlling or eliminating content. These protections go beyond business and extend to things like online chats, mobile applications, and news media content. Without net neutrality, your internet provider could essentially control what information you receive across your internet connection.
While most sneaker enthusiasts I’ve met seem apolitical, the end of net neutrality could spell the end of sneaker culture as we know it. For individuals without a heavy reliance on internet based social media, chat groups, blogs, videos, or other types of content the end of net neutrality may not be a big deal, but for those of us who use the internet to buy, sell, and otherwise interact with other individuals in the culture, net neutrality is a vital part of staying connected, informed, and your feet well ensconced.
(If you want to ensure net neutrality doesn’t go away contact your state Congressman’s office. Full listing here)
By David Blackmon / @jusdave3_2