Last night's GOP debate had everything (*Stefon voice*): American flag pins, an inflated sense of self-importance, heated exchanges and an utter lack of understanding about the Internet.
A portion of the debate centered around the big ol', ~spooky scary~ Internet, and how ISIS members are using social media to recruit members and communicate to one another. Much of the discussion, which centered around "shutting down the Internet" as a potential solution, showed that this crew of candidates desperately need a crash course in Internet literacy 101.
So I, as a proud Millennial/snake person, feel particularly qualified to give it to them.
Let's start with Donald Trump, who clearly needs to be educated. Last night, he suggested shutting down "areas" of the Internet would help to track terrorist organizations like ISIS. "We should be able to penetrate the Internet and find out exactly where ISIS is," Trump said. "I don't want them using our Internet to take our young, impressionable youth. ISIS is recruiting through the Internet. ISIS is using the Internet better than we are using the Internet."
Rule number one of the Internet -- it's not a Planet Fitness. You don't get an "Internet membership card" that can be revoked if you throw a protein shake in Pilates class. The Internet exists, and given the proper tools anyone can access it. Even identifying IP addresses can't "find" and "block" individuals, because they're tied to locations and machines, not humans.
Also, I'm not really sure what Donald Trump meant by "penetrat[ing] the Internet," but I'm pretty sure you can't -- and shouldn't -- do it.
When asked directly if he'd be open to "closing the Internet," Trump said, "I would certainly be open to closing areas where we are at war with somebody. I sure as hell don't want to let people that want to kill us and kill our nation use our Internet. Yes, sir, I am."
MTV News spoke to Eva Galperin, a Global Policy Analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, to clarify Trump's proposition. "Wow," she said. "I'm not sure what Trump is proposing here, but it doesn't sound as if it's based in any kind of technical or legal reality."
Rule number two -- the Internet isn't exclusive to America. Oxford Dictionary defines "the Internet" as "a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols." For context, around 3 billion people worldwide use the Internet every year, and many of them are not American. Obviously.
Galperin said, "Many key undersea cables land in the U.S., and if we cut them, we could shut down a substantial part of the Internet. But if the US government starts doing that, then the rule of law has gone completely out the window."
And while we're at it, let's get rule number three out there -- there's no Dr. Internet to pick and choose what to "shut down" online, and though I'm sure Donald Trump would love to assume that role, let's take a moment to envision that possibility.
The debate moderators share some culpability for continually using phrases like "shutting down the Internet," because it's not. A. Thing.
At one point, Wolf Blitzer asked, "Governor Kasich, is shutting down any part of the Internet a good idea?" Kasich basically said no and that he wanted to talk about "the metadata" instead, because reasons.
Rule number four -- if someone asks you about "shutting down the Internet," kindly explain that it's impossible.
Oh, GOP candidates. You are the technologically inept grandparents of my nightmares, clearly in need of Millennial wizardry. The Internet is just not for you. But it is for us to make fire memes about you.