Hello everyone, as per usual I hope this blog finds you all well. I felt the need to get away from my typical settings and so migrated up north to my parent’s home in the Catskills in NY. It’s cold here, it was snowing quite a bit yesterday, but it goes between somewhat frigid with the wind chill and very mild without it. There are wild turkeys, coyotes, and other assorted predators/prey in the woods surrounding the property, and farms and the like with cows and horses all over the county. It feels somewhat that I’ve detoxed a bit already. Funny how a change in location and something of a change in society makes one feel like they’re living a different life for a time. But I’m not so naive to believe that just a change in scenery is actually a serviceable data detox; and if anything it may serve to bolster what data businesses and platform owners have on me since now there’s a bit of extra variety to my life.
So how does the Data Detox Kit help me? I picked up a few things from it which I felt I could or do actively engage in. First though, as just a general point and not so much related to how I can implement the tools of this kit, I was not aware of the Cottingley Fairies. I read a bit of the Wikipedia page though and found it really engaging. That there was so much buzz, and more so that that buzz continued for many decades following the release of the photographs, shows the power of public consciousness. The Wiki article even cites that some of the photographs were sold for some thousands of pounds. If people can be led to believe in something, then they can be coerced and pitted against each other too.
To the actual practices of the kit, I can say I would do better to incorporate more into my life. One of the things which the kit suggests is heightening security on your various profiles and apps. I’ve been using 2-factor authentication for years now. It has always seemed to me that the slight inconvenience of occasionally having to access and email or a text or some code from an app on my phone is well worth the security it affords me. In World of Warcraft, accounts on the private server I used to play on would sometimes be hacked and sold if they contained enough equity. It was never even a question for me of if I was going to partake in 2FA, since the hundreds of hours invested into my profile could be summarily removed otherwise. The same goes for my phone; I have had password protection on my phones for a long time since, although the chances of my phone being lifted are small, it at least gives me some peace of mind to know that it is less viable that my phone would be used against me in some way with a password on my screen. One thing I could stand to do, as the kit recommends, is to relax when I see timers. There really is something about seeing my cart being given a time limit which gives me a bit of anxiety, and I guess I hadn’t thought about it but of course it’s intended that way. I should be mindful of the control that I am allowing a retailer to have over me in this way, and try a bit harder not to make snap decisions just because I might have to restock my cart.
Another thing which I definitely could stand to do more of is experiment with alternatives. On the one hand I do actually use Firefox almost exclusively as my PC and laptop browser; on the other hand on my phone and work/school laptop which is a Chromebook, I use Google. But beyond that choice I actively make to not use Google for browsing where possible, I do automatically use Google for its many other apps. Nothing skeeves me out quite like walking into a restaurant or even just a general location only to have Google ask me as a notification on my phone if I enjoyed my visit to that specific shop or location. Were I to at least attempt to use alternatives to Google Maps etc., I may avail myself a sliver more privacy to just my geographic location.
I did also enjoy seeing a section dedicated to Filter Bubbles. After the time we spent discussing filter bubbles earlier this semester, I tried to think of how I may continue to expand or burst mine altogether. Apropos of this kit I decided to delete my entire search history on my phone, which accounted for a length of searches I cannot even begin to quantify. From time to time I actually enjoyed looking through what I was checking out from months past to see if there were any loose threads I had been distracted from or things which I may feel inclined to explore again. But I believe in some ways that there is a price to pay for containing not only all of that data but myself to it, and am interested to see what, if any, effect there might be on what results I am given now that (to some degree) my data has been removed or altered.