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Net Neutrality, #TheDress, and Llamas, Oh My!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock since Thursday, you’ve probably seen images of a dress circulating the Internet causing such a firestorm of debate, you’d wonder if it was election season or something. The debate? Whether the dress in question is blue with black stripes or white with gold stripes. The real question: who really cares? Yet, no one can seem to agree on the true colors in the picture, and the debate of #TheDress took over the Internet in a matter of a few hours. Everyone on newsfeeds everywhere from my colorblind mother (“It’s grey and darker grey, but that’s nothing new”) to Taylor Swift (an avid member of team blue and black) threw in their speculations on the issue. I’m sure by now you’ve seen the explanations to the phenomenon; one questionable article asserted that emotional trauma caused you to see blue and black, while another article explains that color constancy, when our brains interpret colors within the context of its lighting exposure, is the real culprit behind this debate.

#TheDress was perhaps the fastest viral Internet sensations we have experienced yet, blowing up the Internet in the matter of just a few short hours (making Kim Kardashian’s attempt at doing so seem pathetic). Its popularity overshadowed what was supposed to be huge news for Internet users everywhere—the FCC ruled in favor of Net Neutrality… and two llamas escaped captivity and went on the loose in Arizona. But more on that later.  Net Neutrality means that Internet service providers and the government must treat all content on the web equally, with absolutely no discrimination or different cost charges against certain users, content, or websites. Many feared that without Net Neutrality, internet providers would give higher speed channels and priority to institutions or organizations who could pay the highest—making only certain viewpoints, political opinions, or groups easily accessible online. As FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, “This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech. They both stand for the same concept”.

And as far as the llama story goes, two llamas got on the loose in a Phoenix suburb, somehow managing to garner a lot of live news coverage on television, more so than the Net Neutrality decision.

February 26th was a strange day for the media. It has left me with quite a few questions to think about. A dress overshadowed llamas, which overshadowed the institution of Net Neutrality, an issue that impacts every Internet user in this country. What drives viral news for our generation? Where do our interests and priorities lie? And are UCLA’s colors really blue and gold, or are they black and white??

 

 

 

 

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