The good people of microblogging platform Tumblr have been a key part of the fight to keep net neutrality since the beginning, posting calls to action and Congressional phone numbers to lobby for their internet rights. Now, with the official repeal of net neutrality after months of fighting for it, they’re fully freakin’ out—mainly because they’re misinterpreting what the end of net neutrality actually looks like.
Back in December, when the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal these guiding principles of internet freedom, Tumblr users started posting calls to action, blogging the hotlines for Congress and urging followers to call and demand net neutrality be saved.
Blogs devoted to saving net neutrality cropped up, like weneedtheinternet.tumblr.com and savenetneutrality.tumblr.com. Saving net neutrality became a sort of dark-humored meme, reactions to Senate votes written in cursive font:
Net neutrality was officially repealed Monday, and it’s a day that, at least on Tumblr, has been largely met with bleak resignation. Apparently a lot of people on Tumblr think that this is the actual, honest-to-God end of the whole damn internet. This is their Y2K. They’re posting “Club Penguin”-style farewell messages, tearfully wishing their internet friends farewell just in case it all comes unplugged thanks to Ajit Pai.
Others have a more fuck-it attitude toward the death of internet freedoms:
Some of these goodbyes are probably just tongue-in-cheek dark humor. But it’s also possible that people who are genuinely afraid their Tumblr is going to get deleted overnight took too literally the widespread anti-repeal blackout demonstrations that websites used in the last few months. Lots of companies, including Netflix, Reddit, Pornhub and even Burger King were partially or fully blocking access to their services in protest of the net neutrality repeal. But these were the more extreme end of how things could look post-net neutrality, used to illustrate the seriousness of the issue. It could get this bad, but not overnight.
And for every panicked farewell post, there are just as many in which people are urging each other to remain calm:
These posts get the closest to the truth: Nothing will change overnight. Pai isn’t coming to your house like the internet Grinch to steal your router. The internet looks largely the same today as it did yesterday. But things will likely begin to look different in the coming months: ISPs will most likely lie low until public interest has waned, especially since 83 percent of Americans opposed the repeal. We could see more aggressive versions of the dirty moves internet companies tried in the past, like AT&T blocking access to Facetime with an additional fee, or Comcast using covert technology to limit access to peer-to-peer sharing.
I was a 2007-era sadposting Tumblr kid myself—I’ve participated in more than a few GPOYWs, and remember a time before Staff fucked something new up every week—so it’s kind of refreshing and heartwarming that kids on Tumblr these days are still so feisty about current events. Some of them may be misinformed, but they care a heck of a lot about otherwise-amorphous issues of internet policy, and bless them for that.
“Hell hath no fury like the internet scorned,” Evan Greer, campaign director of advocacy group Fight for the Future, told Motherboard in April. And there’s no fury like teens threatened with the end of the internet as they know it.