Almost ten years ago I was wandering through YouTube when I stumbled across a skinny kid in Los Angeles playing her guitar. She sang off-key and out of tune, and her guitar looked like it might be twice as big as she was, but she sang with her full heart and with a rich sincerity I'd never seen outside of Christian music.
I subscribed and left a few words of encouragement. My comment was immediately attacked, naturally. I came back a couple days later and left some more encouragement. For about a year I made it a habit to offer encouragement and advice on every video she posted. Then I got busy and couldn't spend much time online, let alone watching YouTube videos. Then I got caught up building a house in corn country and getting settled in. My father got older and needed more help doing everyday things. I found more people in Ohio who were in dire need so I helped some of them. Next thing I know years had gone by, so I went looking for her again to see what she had been up to.
I found her in the middle of a world tour sponsored by Jelly Belly. Where her videos used to have a couple hundred hits at the very most, now she rakes in thousands within a few hours of posting them. This is her latest. As I write this, barely an hour after the video went live, the hit count is 302, twice what her most popular videos used to get after weeks and months online. By the time anyone reads my little blog post I'm sure the views will be in the tens of thousands and probably much, much more.
Enjoy the video, buy her CDs, load up iTunes and buy her stuff for your morning commute. This girl is gonna be a household name someday.
Kina is one of the first of a new generation of entertainers who start by mastering the power of the internet to gain a worldwide following before they ever publish a single tune. Kina Grannis and millions of young people like her are the real reason the internet must remain the wild and woolly, untamed place that it is. We need a global forum where anyone and everyone can upload their best. It must remain unregulated, unfenced, untaxed, and uncontrolled. This is the single most powerful equalizing tool humanity has ever created. Yes, it's true. If we can keep the internet free then someday it could be the foundation of an entirely new reality. We must keep it free, however. Regulating it, supervising it, censoring it, taxing it, using it as a spytool, all of these efforts by global and national governments to claim control over this frontier will doom the potential it offers.
The internet is the last springboard into a genuine global society based on equal opportunity and free enterprise. If the collectivists have their way and the false messiahs with their promises of utopia are allowed to gain the upper hand here in cyberspace, then humanity is truly doomed.
A free and open internet, filled with beauty, ugliness, love, and hate, all in uncontrolled chaos, is the key to a better future. Kina Grannis and millions of young people around the world just like her are the evidence of that promise.
Utopian daydreams cannot bring a better world. They only bring darkness and oppression. The key to human happiness is freedom as close to total anarchy as we can tolerate. The less chaos we tolerate, the more unhappy we will be. That is the single most important lesson of history.