Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Changing the Way We Do Business
I have to confess that the Internet often bugs me. Most of us living in the 21st century, after all, have become virtual slaves to web-based programs like Google, Flickr, and Amazon. These programs were supposed to make our lives easier and enhance our freedom, but the opposite has proven to be the case. We are now poised to become a generation of Internet idiots—people who will no longer have the attention spans required to write great novels, study philosophy, or practice meditation, or who will no longer have the emotional intelligence needed to interact meaningfully with our fellow human beings. And that’s mainly due to our addiction to the soul-sucking Internet.
That having been said, every now and then I come upon a website that actually has the potential to transform human society for the better. And when that happens, it slightly reaffirms my faith in the Internet as a tool for personal and social empowerment.
Change.org, I believe, represents what is best about the Internet, because it allows ordinary people like you and me to harass the powerful and mighty into changing the way they do business. Last fall, for example, Molly Katchpole, a 22 year old nanny, was incensed that Bank of America wanted to charge a $5 a month fee for the use of debit cards. Molly wrote a petition on Change.org, and 306,000 signatures later, Bank of America totally backed down on their plans.
More recently, another ordinary American, Mark Shields, gathered 250,000 petition signatures to demand better working conditions at Chinese factories making Apple products like iPhones and iPads. Conditions in these factories are so appalling that there has recently been a rash of workers—including child laborers—killing themselves out of despair. A lurid New York Times exposé wasn’t able to shame Apple into changing its practices, but Mark’s petition seems to be having some effect. Yesterday, Apple’s CEO announced that the company will immediately be starting factory inspections in China.
As I was searching through the Change.org site, there were several petitions that I immediately signed (one being a petition to end corporate personhood) and I was inspired to begin writing my own petition for a cause that is near and dear to my own heart—calling for the end of China’s genocide against the people of Tibet.
My question to each of you out there is: is there some cause about which you feel strongly enough that you’d be willing to sign a petition or even start your own? If so, what would this cause be?
You know what my causes are… Now share yours.