What we’re facing here is the death of fun, a ban on giggling alone at your desk.
The Stop Online Piracy Act asserts itself so broadly—it aims to regulate everything from counterfeit prescription drugs to intellectual property rights—that it’s difficult to begin to imagine all the ramifications. The only thing I know for sure about SOPA is that it would be a very bad thing for people who frequently use the internet—so, everyone—and that it would sit its big, weighty body on the fragile skeleton of free expression and crush it into a million little splinters. It would inspire fear in everyone who creates content online, even if they’re only doing it for their own Facebook friends, because most of us are ignorantly pirating or consuming pirated best-of clips of Groundskeeper Willie, making the sites we use most liable. YouTube, Twitter, Wikipedia, Google, Wikileaks: What we’re facing here is the death of fun, the end of profound, drool-inducing engrossment in 50 pages of someone’s sporadically-chronicled life, a ban on giggling alone at your desk.
It can hit at any time—checking your email at 10:30 on a Saturday morning or killing 20 minutes before dinner—but it strikes most frequently at night. You open a new tab and wind up here again, a cup of some delicious liquid on the arm of your chair, and think, This is what watching Saturday morning cartoons was like. Mashup videos smell like occupying your own childhood again: that good old brain-churning, zap-eyed wonder at colorful stimuli. David Thorne was right: The internet is a playground, and being entertained by it is an experience that’s difficult to imagine living without.