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I didn’t grow up in the era of social media. Not in my early years anyway. I grew up playing outside with lots of physical activity and socialising the natural way, as in actual human contact. Things are different now. For me and in the world. I don’t socialise as much as I used to, you end up drifting away from people and friendships can dissolve over time, I’m not too bothered about that because it happens but I do kinda wish I kept in touch with a few primary school friends. Facebook was useful for that, it was nice catching up with some people and seeing how they were doing after all those years. A running theme with me though is public meltdowns and outbursts. Social media and poor mental health are not a good mix. If you’ve got low self esteem or you’re an attention seeker, likes can act as a temporary void filler, so you get people who post endless selfies or pointless statuses just for the attention and validation from likes. For me with facebook it was more about laughs and silly dramas, and wanting people to listen to what I had to say. So I guess I did want this, I just didn’t realise it would on the scale that it is. Facebook when it first came out was nothing like it’s become now. It was the new thing that everyone was using so I joined it to see what all the fuss was about. After a few years of using it, it got to the point where I thought, none of these people are in my life so why would I want them to know what I’m up to, so for privacy reasons I deleted my account. After about 2 years I went back on there and deleted some people. Everyone I met in between that time would ask if I was on Facebook and look at me like I was a freak when I said no. ‘Not on Facebook? What’s wrong with you?’. I’m quite reserved when I meet new people so I’m sure they just wanted to be nosey and see what my life looked like anyway. It didn’t take too long for me to delete my account again, I started thinking what I think about social media now: It claims to connect us but at the end of the day it’s data, data will never be able to replace real human contact. The negatives far outweigh the positives for me. Data harvesting, exploiting people’s emotions and personalities, fueling addictive and unhealthy behaviour, censorship, trolling. I’m no stranger to slagging people off online and in person, but 9 times out of 10 I only come for people who come for me. And whatever I say online I’ll say it to your face unlike most of these keyboard warriors. But I wanna stay away from judgements and outbursts from now on and focus on healthy discussions that involve active listening, and if the other person(s) doesn’t respond to reason or isn’t willing to participate in active listening then there’s simply no point in me wasting my time on them.

What I’ve heard from a few people when they’re confronted with privacy violations by social media, technology and corporations is the phrase “I’ve got nothing to hide”. I think it’s a case of out of sight out of mind. Well think about this. Privacy violations by social media, technology and corporations are the equivalent of a group of people standing behind you watching and listening to everything you do on your phone or your laptop. I’m having to deal with data leaks and privacy violations both at home and on my laptop. The processor in my laptop which is manufactured by Intel is leaking data. I don’t know what or where to, but it seems that everyone knows but me and I’m a bit confused as to why after all this time no one’s told me yet. I’ll get into the privacy violations at home when I do my gangstalking post. Since I can’t afford a new laptop right now, I’m firejailing the shit out of this one (firejail is an application that isolates a program from the rest of your device so that hackers and snoopers can’t access important/sensitive/personal data), I’m using an on-screen keyboard to type and I’m also working inside a virtual machine to write my posts and browse the internet, where again I’m firejailing everything. But to be honest I don’t even think any of that’s working. I also wiped Microsoft Windows off my laptop a while ago and replaced it with a Linux based operating system (linux is the software that android phones run on). Apart from being ridiculously slow (despite having adequate RAM, a relatively decent CPU and the latest version of Windows), Microsoft has got something in their terms and conditions that says they’re able to collect your data and share it with 3rd parties, with or without your consent. This includes what you type and things like your location. You can read this in detail and download a program to manually opt out of these terms on this website, there’s lots of other information and resources on there so it’s worth checking out. Linux can be quite technical depending on which version you use, but once you get the hang of it it’s pretty easy to use and there are Linux versions out there that can have the same look and feel of Windows or Macbooks. It’s also completely free and open source.

If it’s a choice between convenience and privacy I’ll choose privacy every time. There are smartphones and alternative operating systems for smartphones out there that don’t compromise your privacy. There’s a company called Purism who build secure smartphones and laptops. You can also install an alternative operating system on the phone you’ve already got if you don’t wanna buy a new one. I just use a basic 2G phone at the moment. I’ve found that because I’m not constantly looking at my phone I’m more able to be in the moment rather than be distracted by apps. Apps that listen in to your conversations and send you notifications or target you with ads based on what you’ve talked about. And google tracking you and asking how a park was after you’ve just left. It’s weird and intrusive.

I never had Instagram or Twitter until about 2 years ago. It never interested me. I only started looking at peoples profiles when I realised everyone was looking at my tumblr. I wasn’t sure what was going on so I’d check peoples profiles to see if they were saying anything about me. It was always indirect but there were good things and bad things as well. I’m not really one to let my guard down but on tumblr I did, and I was so depressed and anxious that I was using it as a coping mechanism. I was compulsive with it. I was vulnerable and comments started to get to me. I’d already been hacked multiple times from day one, and for someone who feels things intensely, not just my own emotions but other peoples as well, it was too much. I shared a lot on there, it was very personal, so it was like people were poking and pulling at my insides. I was angry, sad and erratic. Deleting and creating accounts simultaneously. Things are different now though, I’ve learned, I’ve grown and I’m back to not giving a shit what people think about me. I don’t spend as much time online as I used to and I’m in a healthier place now so sharing doesn’t feel as scary as did before. I’m done with social media now anyway. I’ll stick with my website.