At the core of the great technology debate, it comes down to one decision.
What does it all mean?
Online privacy, Content, General Data Protection Regulation, Data-mining…
The struggle is real when it comes to keeping up with technology. It’s effects on your life and society are affected everyday by technology.
With the passing of GDPR, California’s Privacy Bill, and issues surrounding Net Neutrality, government bodies are well aware of the dangers of massive tech companies controlling massive amounts of user data.
Yet individuals have yet to follow suit, turning the other cheek in denial of the major impact their digital identity can have on their real lives.
Some are exposed to it, but choose to blissfully ignore it. Others are well aware, but don’t care or don’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation.
Usually in all cases, people just have no idea what’s going on.
This can be a major roadblock for making choices about your digital life from how to protect yourself online to how to vote. And with issues about online privacy entering politics, not knowing about technology can mean wasting your vote or even voting against your best interests.
But, let’s make it easy for ourselves to understand. The mark of true understanding is the ability to explain concepts clearly, after all.
In your everyday life, it comes down to choosing between Privacy or Convenience.
A World Of Convenience
What does a world where we all collectively choose convenience over privacy look like?
Well it looks a bit like today.
We have free reign to stomp around the internet and enjoy its many sources of entertainment and education.
We sign up for services “free” and don’t think much of it.
We give up our location in exchange to be told where to go by GPS applications.
We send away our voices to be stored and recorded by smart voice assistants to be told the recipe for tonight’s chicken dinner.
What are we losing here?
For one, fundamental basic rights. To be catered to and constantly served, advertising companies harvest your data to know your habits, lifestyle, and even thoughts.
screenshot: Instagram @tutanotateam
For a comparison of what this looks like at its most extreme, think 1984 or Brave New World. Kind of grim, but fairly accurate.
Convenience can only take us so far. When “recommendations” become forced options, we will really be confused our free will ends and automated suggestions begin. We lose the freedom of choice.
For example, the recent over-recommendation of Drake on Spotify playlists are very revealing about the true meaning of corporate recommendations.
"Rather, the problem lies in what these gestures reveal about the corporation’s relationship to its customers. In Apple’s case, the shock expressed by many was that they had no say over what landed in their iTunes folder—Apple could just reach in and put something there. To those who saw their networked devices and hard drives as private, this came as an unpleasant surprise. It seemed like a breach of an unspoken agreement: We accept that Apple has an uncomfortable amount of access to our files, and Apple agrees not to rub our faces in it. Finding a U2 album inside your personal iTunes folder was like finding a note from your landlord inside the refrigerator” (Pitchfork).
You can choose to ignore the digital shift of your everyday life. If that’s your choice, then you choose a life of convenience.
This Is Your Private Lifestyle
In contrast, online privacy focuses on the individual’s choice. Privacy pivots around an empowered user who chooses what content they share, who sees it, and where that content lives.
It may be hard to keep up with the complex, social issues surrounding technology, but when you look at it as through the lens of privacy or convenience, it can transform a lot of the confusion into clarity.