Putin Pops

Would you shop in a store that sells only one item? Not an item tailored specifically to you, but just one item… one flavor only… no variety… take it or leave it. Probably not, unless that was specifically what you wanted, and the price was right. Otherwise, you would go to a different store, right? One with some variety. One that had a colourful cereal aisle with numerous brands to chose from? But what if you didn’t have the choice of where you could shop… one store only… no options… no variety… take it or leave it.

I read that two companies, Cogent and Lumen, had shut down the use of their infrastructure to and from Russia. What is their infrastructure, you may ask? It seems that these two companies control about 600,000 miles of fibre optic lines on which the internet functions. That’s right! Regardless of what you might think, some one actually controls the internet! Not the content but the physical structure of how that content gets it from Point A to Point B. That’s a bit of an oversimplification, but the thought that the internet is not controlled by anyone, is obviously not the truth. The truth is that there are companies around the world, that own the wires that the www relies on for its transmission of information, and guess what? They have an on/off switch!! What have they been waiting for??? They should have flipped the switch when Trump got elected!!!

Cogent and Lumen are not the only companies that own fibre optic transmission lines, but they are the two biggest ones, and will make it quite difficult for Russia and its people, to send and access information from outside its borders. I see that as both good and bad. Even the companies admitted, there would be collateral damage from their actions.

It’s good, in that it stops the Russian government from using the web for propaganda purposes outside its borders. It will severely hinder any nefarious Russian’s ability to attack western interests through hacking. It’s the reason why these companies claim they are shutting down access from inside Russia to the outside world. To prevent this from happening.

But this will also mean, that the Russian people, the average Svetlana and Ivan on the street, may have no access to information from outside their own neighbourhood. For them, the truth may be out there, but they won’t ever see it. This might be problematic, when your only information is being supplied by state-run media that is one-sided, and extremely slanted! One narrative… no variety… take it or leave it.

The question is, how long does it take before all Russians start to believe the only thing they’re being fed? If it’s the only thing they see in the cereal aisle, how long before the Russian people start thinking the only ‘true’ breakfast cereal is Putin Pops! Putin is doing everything he can to dictate the information the citizens get. Basically, deeming Putin Pops as being the only ‘true’ breakfast food there is, and everything else is ‘fake’ cereal. You could go to jail for eating Fruit Loops in Russia! Putin is so obsessed with controlling the narrative to the people, that a 15-year jail term awaits anyone who even mentions Fruit Loops exist!! Without the information coming from outside the country, he is able to effectively limit the cereal aisle to just Putin Pops!!

As much as I like the idea of shutting down the internet, it is to late to put the genie back in the bottle. I think the variety of information down these lines is necessary. Yes, we’ll all have to see Putin Pops on the store shelves, and Russians and the far-right truckers outside Russia, that believe that Putin Pops is the only ‘true’ breakfast cereal, will get their daily fix. But at least the average Russian will see that Fruit Loops are out there as well. At least they will know there is a challenge to Putin Pops cereal supremacy, and that information allows them the choice to shop at a different store.







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1 Comment

  1. //

    Interesting piece. There is an old adage that goes something like :”The person who controls the army controls the country.” You have added a new twist (although maybe not so new: Hitler and Goebbels knew about propaganda as well)–“The person who controls the narrative controls the country.”

    I believe this is true.

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