You don’t have to be special to desire privacy. As the fight to sell personal information continues to gain ground trying to hold onto it becomes more of a challenge. It gets to the point where people look at you funny when you want to maintain it at all. The problem with this is that at some point it became strange to want to respect the privacy of yourself and others. Not long ago it was socially taboo to do half the things we accept as common place in our current social atmosphere.
“Your brain runs on what you allow to fuel it. If you don’t give it outside thoughts to expand it then it will sputter out and die. Inject new thoughts, knowledge, and ideas to keep it going. Stagnation is death.”
You don’t have to be in a special career field to want to maintain your privacy. The right to privacy is yours but it’s also yours to steward. For instance, I chose to blur my photos because they’re mine and I value my privacy. I am aware that with such things as driver’s license pictures, passport photos, and other database exfiltration it’s at some point a fool’s errand but it’s one I chose to place value in. The thought that maintaining your own personal privacy is some sort of paranoia fueled activity is misplaced with the demonstration of social media as a weapon system.
What can you do?
First of all, as always education and knowledge are key. You can’t engage an enemy you don’t understand and expect success. How are exceptions to your privacy made and why? With some light reading you can expect a much better understanding of the field you are stepping onto and the weapons systems leveled against you. I use the term weapons system deliberately because that is exactly what they are. Make no illusions that every bit you give away is cataloged and utilized against you.
Where can you go for knowledge?
LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media - by Eamon Dolan is a great starter that goes all the way back to the telegraph and up to today. The topics range from understanding the early history of the internet to the algorithms used to market and create echo chambers around individuals. This is what I would consider a primer for understanding how you are made a product that is sold around the world while you gain no advantage. When you fill your mind with the same thoughts as what you think you know there is only the solidification and hardening of your own beliefs till any idea contrary is like a seismic wave through your being. The platforms we engage in are designed to do just that and even to the biological precision of triggering dopamine release for digital voyeurism. Something I’ve personally struggled with is knowing how the system works and trying to engage without becoming another sell out I loathe.
The Complete Privacy & Security Desk Reference: Volume II: Physical (Volume 2) - by Michael Bazzell and Justin Carroll takes it a step further and really much further if you want to be invested in your own privacy. This rabbit hole goes deep and you can choose to run as far down as possible. Go forward though with the knowledge that the further you go the more the system will fight you. The authors have gone so far to the extremes that even obtaining a credit report has become impossible. This all sounds fun till you need to buy a house or get a deposit for turning on utilities. As with anything there are things you can do but just to reiterate the system is designed to keep you in it not let you roam free.
Altering your behavior
This sounds easy but frankly it’s just not. With the public tendency to call anyone with a concern for their privacy a paranoid person the attitude plays directly into the system. Now I’m not saying you need to go as far as the previous authors have but if you want to recognize its your right to do so. There is no requirement to be available for monetization any more than you wish to be. The old saying goes never do something you’re good at for free and no one is better at being you than you. Getting friends and family to accept this can be another hurdle as not everyone has the same appetite for understanding.
Altering others behavior
While you may be very security conscious about your communications if your circle that you communicate in isn’t it doesn’t do a lot of good. For instance, our email is handled by Proton mail which is encrypted but if the person you’re emailing is on Gmail then your content is indexed and sold just as if you were on Gmail yourself. If you text someone whose phone is being ripped its going along as well. Now there are ways to try and protect yourself but that seems like it could be another basics article itself let alone steps to take when traveling. We also saw this a lot when RD was doing more consulting, the principle would be locked up tight but hit their spouse or parent and it was wide open. Speaking from experience explaining to your spouse why you won’t list you’re married on social media can unleash a torrent of issues you didn’t expect.
What can you do?
Stay educated on the latest trends and issues facing electronic and other communications. Be aware of what’s happening around you and how your pattern of life can broadcast your intentions and activity. The most important thing I can tell you is stop staring at your devices and be aware of what’s happening around you. Knowing a minimum level of will put you far ahead of many and could mean a malicious actor moves on to easier pickings. Reading terms and conditions will take a lot of the fun out of numerous apps but it may be worth it in the long run. Recent headlines around the popular app that aged your photo were nothing surprising to folks to do a bit of due diligence.
In this respect I mean just unplug and go outside or read a book. Go learn something new outside of the digital world. Just get your mind into a place that isn’t rooted in trying to steal or sell your being. Go travel the world you live in as much as possible even if it’s your community. Meet people that have other viewpoints and learn the world is a much nicer place than the media wants you to believe. The community around you will be your community when things go horribly wrong and while I have very little trust left for mankind there are always good people even in bad places. If you don’t venture out you will never find them and they will never find you.