I’m terrible with dates. I once said, with full confidence, that Thanksgiving was always Nov. 25. So, it shouldn’t be too surprising that I forget April Fool’s Day every year. These days, I’m not plagued by whoopee cushions and buckets of water so much as I’m plagued by electronic gags from people more clever than I. We all remember the saying, “If it’s in print it must be true.” Well, it’s the electronic age now and people are more clever and just as funny.
The first one this year was a social media post I came across. For the briefest of moments, I actually believed that the state of Wyoming was releasing kangaroos into the wild in an effort to provide additional sporting opportunities. This wasn’t too far of a jump for me, since I had recently seen a news clip about the kangaroos over-populating in Australia. For a second, I thought, “Oh, they exported kangaroos to Wyoming to steady the native population. Good.” Then I read the dateline and realized what was happening.
Later that afternoon, someone asked if I had seen the news that George Takei was going to run for Congress. While I like the idea, my recent clash with the kangaroo news had left me skeptical. It didn’t take long to find that story to also be a product of the April 1 tradition as well. Come on though. He’d have great campaign commercials and his slogan could be something like, “Course laid in for liberty.” I don’t know.
Anyway, as we all have to do at some point each week, I soon looked up an address on Google Maps. There I found that the fun-loving search engineers had seen fit to bring back the Pac-Man feature. This was one of my favorites last year. Granted, it’s not so much a prank as it is simply fun. The streets and avenues of your favorite neighborhood can be converted into a course from the classic arcade game, complete with sounds and music. If you haven’t tried it, you should. Right now. I’ll wait.
Back to social media, my feed told me it was not one, but two of my friends’ birthdays on April 1. I was too smart for Facebook. I knew what Zuckerberg and his crew were doing. Randomly select a couple people from my friends list and I’ll look like the out of touch idiot who wishes them a happy birthday when it ... oh, dang. That wasn’t a prank from Facebook. I’ll have to remember to wish them a happy belated birthday.
Last one that day, I saw a headline that said the Trump administration wants to get rid of net neutrality laws. I wanted to file that one next to kangaroos in Wyoming but, again, this one wasn’t a joke.
It’s not a joke.
Congress just recently decided to nix the laws that kept internet service providers from accessing and selling our browsing information. Now, the White House is taking aim at net neutrality laws. I’ll admit, that’s a lot of words and doesn’t sound like much on the surface but net neutrality is also called the Open Internet rules by the Federal Communications Commission. Incase you aren’t sure what they mean by Open Internet, let me quote them directly.
“The FCC's Open Internet rules protect and maintain open, uninhibited access to legal online content without broadband Internet access providers being allowed to block, impair, or establish fast/slow lanes to lawful content,” the FCC said.
So now, not only was access and sale of our internet history made available, the next item in the crosshairs is to allow legal content to be blocked, impaired or slowed. Some may ask why a billionaire president, with record-low approval ratings, who loves social media like a bear loves honey and regularly defends falsehoods would want to make provisions for legal content to be inhibited. Some would. I don’t.
Just like when the EPA media blackout dropped in close proximity to the Dakota Access Pipeline being pushed through, it’s hard not to see a pattern forming.