Fear of Data

hamzberg | 12 June 2023 | 3 minute read

Giving data to "people" sucks.

I'm speaking from the fact that I spent years trying to keep myself private on the internet. I found it to be impossible.

During my early teenage years, I was made aware of how companies harvest data in ethical and unethical ways from users. The government is both to slow legislate this and partaking in their own harvesting for surveillance. (Edward Snowden did nothing wrong.) Ever since, I've lived in a bubble of paranoia that I've recently come to realize only hurts me more than shields me.

It's not impossible to live privately on the internet and keep your identity hidden, but it sure is hellishly hard.

It feels like no one has control over where data is sent, who it goes to, and why they need to know that. You just blindly purchase the new device from Silicon Valley (Made in China, Assembled in California) and hope for the best. Maybe that three-letter agency is on vacation when you want to tell a secret.

The Tech-Enthusist Route

Even though I would never find them enjoyable to use, I was very much interested in privacy technology. I fell for the ProtonMail trick, and the whole VPN veil. But, I did wise up. For the longest time I was searching for a way to self-host. I was learning all this junk about how to make your own server and how to connect devices to it. It was maddening because I was also learning about the Intel Management Engine's use of MINIX and other surveilances pre-built into devices. I remember finding this ThinkPad that was modified with Libreboot to neuter all avenues of surveilance. It was cool and fairly cheap, but not powerful enough for my purposes. With all that said, I would've needed to start life from scratch if I wanted to be serious about privacy.

Buying technology to be private does not work. If you want to be private, use less technology.

Using Social Media

People have called me old for not using the latest and greatest in society-degrading technology. (I am never using TikTok.) I did start using some, but I was still reluctant. I had a hard time posting anything because I always wondered: "Why? Who cares? Does it even matter?" Course, this was always subsided by my friends posting some of the most mundane, uninteresting, if not then attention seeking posts. I doubt it's because a deficiency in their needs. I'm glad to have really deterministic people around me, but it looks as if social media can pull that out of anyone.

Including me.

I was able to dispel the fear of data harvesting a little bit when I was on Instagram, even though it's literally owned by Facebook/Meta. I would post stuff I made with Adobe products and occasionally an edited video of my friends. I was still a lot more cautious than my friends, but I appreciated the delusion while it lasted.

But, where am I now?

Well, it's a bad ending. I still use Gmail. I'm still on Android. I still use Windows from time to time. So even though I'm aware of all the problems, I gave up. Though, I've taken a different approach: the path of least resistance. I use a modified Firefox. I use privacy enhancing browser extensions. I use Linux a majority of the time.

So I still lost, but at least I'm a sore loser.


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