SOPA has been popping up on my Facebook and Google+ feeds for awhile now. But, until now, I had only a vague impression that something bad might be happening. That all changed today when I did a search and found that the ever-present and faithful Wikipedia had gone dark. They linked me to my congressman and I wrote him a note. How’s that for motivating behavior change? I can’t remember the last time I wrote a representative, but today I was not alone. Half the people in my department did the same. As motivated as I was by Wiki’s bold move, I was not feeling genuinely deprived. I can hold off on my “fact-checking” until tomorrow. But when I logged into Craigslist (during my daily search for things I don’t need), it too, seemed to have gone black. Are you kidding me? This is even a bigger deal than I thought.
Apparently others think so as well: Black bars and censored blocks started showing up in status feeds and the soon-to-be-censored web (we’ll see about that, I guess) was abuzz with chatter. To be perfectly honest, I am not familiar enough with this piece of legislation to speak authoritatively as to how people should respond, but there is certainly a lesson here with regard to motivating behavior change.
Sometimes it’s good to take away the carrot and let people see what they could be missing. This is not a technique, however, for the faint of heart – there are many potential pitfalls. But if you have a message that you really need to communicate – and your brand health is sufficient for the inherent risks – less may, in fact, mean more.