When I put up my tree last year, it was fine. It was nothing really grand, but it fit my apartment and it was easy to set up. It is an artificial tree which comes in four parts that all fit together easily. Each part has its own string of lights, and each string connects to the one next to it. Easy peasy.
This year, when I put the tree together, the top string of lights didn’t work. “No worries,” I thought. “I’ll just buy another string of lights and replace the dud one. Well, it was a little more difficult than I thought to take off the old string because it was held in place by dozens of little tiny green clips which I removed one at a time. Then, after I had put the new string of lights on the top of the tree, I tried to connect it using the same clips. Well, some broke and some just wouldn’t easily clip over the new string, so I gave up on that after a while.
The tree was now fully lit from top to bottom, and I was quite satisfied with myself and my tree. Then, a few days later, another string of lights went out. Dark. Dead. I thought about replacing them for all of about five minutes before I decided that I wasn’t going to bother. I figured I could put up with a tree that was three-quarters of the illuminated glory that it was meant to be. After all, by now I’d put on my ornaments and I didn’t want to take the whole thing apart. It was good enough.
Then, just two days later, another string of lights went out. By this time, I was resigned to my tree being half dark and half lit. It isn’t all that great to look at, but it’s going to stay that way now until after Christmas when it will find itself in the dumpster in the basement of the condo building. Using the “half a loaf is better than no bread” philosophy, I’m semi-celebratory.
What does this have to do with net neutrality, you ask? Well, let me explain. Today the Federal Communications Commission decided to do away with the law that regulated businesses that connect American consumers to the Internet. Those regulations prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or certain content. Now those providers can limit what parts of the Internet we can use and then charge us to use the parts they held back. They are going to nickel and dime us to death over this.
It occurred to me that my Christmas tree is a good analogy for this. First, we’ll think it’s not so bad. We’ll go out and buy more to make it just as it was, only now it has cost us a bit more than we anticipated. Then we’ll realize that we are missing out on various websites and services we used to have. We may not miss them very much because we didn’t use them a lot, but still it’s a pity we can’t have them. Ultimately, we’ll find that we are missing out on some things we really wanted but can no longer afford and we’ll call it quits. It’s all gone much too dark. We’ll just chuck the whole thing in the dumpster.