Maybe let's stop making it easy for people to stalk us?*
Google does monitor your digital footprint and almost always knows exactly where you are. This isn't a conspiracy theory and it should disturb you. While you can open a Google email account without linking it to a phone number, Google will not stop heckling you about linking a phone number or a recovery email address (they promise this is for your safety and security and that this step will help you recover your account should anyone try to hack into your email box). But, Google, you’re the one tracking my online movements, are you not? I searched for “memory foam bras” three months ago and am still getting random ads in my Promotions mailbox about bras. It is actually Google - and not some nefarious perp on the dark web - tracking my searches. And I would even say that Google scans my mailbox from time to time for keywords, in order to know what types of ads to push my way - but I don’t have proof yet. Google, you’re shady.
The noose is getting tighter around us and we have come to normalize the invasion of our privacy for the sake of the "greater good". And what exactly is this greater good? Crime prevention? Ease of surveillance by law enforcement? Or is the "greater good" selling my email address and phone number to ad agencies who will proceed to bombard me and try to convince me to buy products I do not need with the money I do not have?~
Google and Big Tech are on the one hand and then on the other hand are the faceless human beings behind keypads that we expose ourselves to daily.
A Case Study
Two months before Monique goes on vacation, her entire timeline knows where she’s going on vacation and who she is going with (her sister-in-law, her 16 year-old-niece, and her work bestie). And everyone knows what airline Monique is flying because she took a picture of her boarding pass daintily lying across her passport at the boarding gate, and also took a picture of the aircraft parked at the jet bridge. And then she posts GRWM (get ready with me) Reels every blessed day of her vacation (with the hotel tag on so that everyone knows what hotel she’s staying at in Barbados); now we all know exactly what she’s wearing on any given day and a stalker can easily spot her and her sister-in-law and her niece and her work bestie a mile away. This is not smart or safe behaviour. And, Monique, in between posting what you had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and Stories of the day's exciting adventures, when exactly do you have the time to just relax and enjoy your vacation? It’s only ten days long and you’re doing too much.
This is a malady we are refusing to address as a society.+ The average person/stranger/follower who comes across Monique’s social media profile can, within a few moments, gleen:
how old she is
where she went to school
whether or not she’s single
what town or state she lives in
whether or not she has children
where she works or what her vocation is
They can figure this out simply by how frequently Monique posts pictures and what types of pictures she posts about herself and her life and her family. We are Monique. Monique is us.
A stranger has no right knowing so much about you. This is not normal and, since the advent of at least Facebook (founded in 2004), it has become encouraged to share things about yourself and your private life online. Sometimes this type of diary-like format of online engagement is described with words like vulnerability or authenticity. Who told you you had to be vulnerable or authentic with strangers on the internet?
The walls of privacy have been increasingly chipped away at over the years and it is now normal for Big Tech to invade your privacy because, if you are already divulging private information about yourself to strangers on the internet, what stops them from tracking your web searches or picking through keywords in your mailbox?
Content Creators are adored and rewarded with brand endorsements and other wannabees are right there on the sidelines trying to get even just a little bit of attention for themselves too, no matter what it takes.
What won't you see on the internet these days?
private conversations between parents and their children, or between spouses/partners
bridal showers/bachelor parties
gender reveal parties^
There are now applications that can actually use AI to search for open cameras in the location you took a particular Instagram photo in, and then find exactly where you took the picture and who took the picture for you. How fun:
There are no longer any sacred spaces. The family home video has been cast into the open internet, where strangers who do not even know your last name will question why you are raising your child like that, or feeding them that, or why your child is still wearing diapers, or why your child does not speak, or why you care for your elderly parent in a particular manner. Know that there are many people who live online just to comb through the internet and offer unkind opinions about things they know nothing about. Maybe stop giving these disturbed individuals fodder in the form of your innocent children and family members?*
For the sake of content creation we have blurred the lines and have invited Big Tech (who are only interested in turning a profit) into our homes and into our private spaces and this will not be reeled back (no pun intended) anytime soon. It will simply proceed towards a wretched dystopia.
* (and also maybe let's stop posting pictures of our young children online - but let's take it one topic at a time).
~ this Gmail trick is pretty cool; you can figure out who sold your data (that is, other than Google themselves):
+ never mind the amount of people who are running themselves into credit card debt trying to keep up with people they don’t even know in real life and with trends that change almost weekly
^ (What even is it? There are literally only two options)