For me at least, on each anniversary of September 11, I take time to reflect on the events of that day, think about how quickly and without warning life can change or end. While I will never forget what happened, I attempt to think about how to live a better life going forward, which is my small way of honoring those who do not have that choice.
This year I focused more on my digital footprint, something that impacts my life more and more each year. The more websites and companies that we “give” our data to, without even thinking about it most of the time, is growing at almost exponential rates and I do not see any slowing of their need for even more data on us.
I am not a Luddite and no I don’t plan to stop using technology, but at the same time I really do not need to give my data away willy-nilly to any website that requests it or even to websites that I used to regularly sign-in to and no longer use.
Well in my infinite wisdom and after thinking about things overnight, I decided to do some digital slashing and burning.
The biggest thing I have done is started the clock on deleting my Facebook account. This is something I have started a couple times before, but always decided that I needed to keep it, especially when I was blogging for other reasons.
While Facebook has some great features and being able to connect with people, clubs and groups easily is something that I will definitely miss, the negatives from my perspective outweigh the benefits.
I will find out if I need it or not during this period and how great my fear of missing out is, but I have a feeling that this time…well it is time.
Another big thing for me is that I got rid of my Symbaloo start page, something that I have used since 2008 and am very used to having. It was just another site that was collecting data and while I like the simpleness of the interface, it really was just time for me to move on. This change just means that I have to do things differently.
The other biggie that I got rid of this morning was LinkedIn. I am retired and have no plans to go back to the workforce, so the utility and need for me to continue to have all that personal data just sitting out there for easy data mining, seemed like an easy choice.
I haven’t done anything with this yet…however, it is on the radar and probably is my next big decision when it comes to reducing my digital footprint. Walking away from all my Google accounts. This would be a big deal to me, but honesty, I haven’t used my Google account all that much over the last six months and now that I don’t use Blogger, the real reason for staying with Google has gone away.
I don’t really use Microsoft products except for their online storage and would think seriously about getting rid of my subscription, except that TheWife uses their stuff daily, so I keep my Windows laptop around to play NeverWinter Nights and to backup my photo archives.
Now that I have a keyboard that actually works for me and my iPad Pro, I pretty much have moved back to the Apple silo. No, it is not perfect, but it works well enough for me and how I do things now. It does mean that I don’t have to have oodles of oddball apps and software configurations and attempt to get everything to work the way that I want it to…well that is the idea anyway.
I have several legacy email accounts (some that I forgot about, until I started looking around the past couple of days) from various services and am going through and deleting them, so that I can get down to only a couple.
As I get email notifications from different web services that I signed up for or used to use, I am going to decide whether to keep or delete the account.
Much like I did with the website Together We Serve after getting a promo email from them, I went in to delete my account. Although they do not make it easy to leave. I eventually had to email the admin and request to be removed and received a confirmation email later in the day acknowledging that they had deleted my account.
Something that I have started before this reflection started, is cutting back on some of the technology and websites that I use daily for running. The GPS watches, websites, footpods and all the other parts of running that tech supposedly enhances and improves. The experiment is going well and while I miss the instant feedback on how far I ran, the less I use tech, the more I seem to be enjoying my running. I am not constantly pouring over different websites to get their interpretation of the data I have uploaded to them. Now to go find the legacy websites that I still have accounts on and delete them as well.
It is also saving me money, because I am not salivating over the latest and greatest GPS/smart watches or gait analysis devices like I had been earlier in the summer.
The reality is that
This shrinking of my digital footprint is something that I needed to do.
More is not always better and since 2007 when I started to really get involved with social media and the Internet, I signed up for this or that and forgot many of the websites that I did sign-up with over the years.
Who knows what kind of data some of those sites are continuing to harvest on me, through all those wonderful Terms of Services agreements that you have to sign in order to “use” their products.
The only reason that I stuck with Facebook as long as I did was keeping up with family members and old friends. However, the security breeches, attitudes towards the users and nastiness that will be prevalent on the platform over the next election cycle, when put altogether made my decision very easy. I just do not want to deal with it anymore.
Now I have to decide whether keeping my Google account is something I need or want to do. Actually this to me is an important decision, because I have done a lot with Google and they have entrenched their services into most of our lives without us realizing how much they are there. So I will have to see where I use Google for login purposes and what data I want to save, before I actually go ahead and delete it.
Just the few things I have done over the past couple of days will reduce my footprint a bit and for better or worse drives me pretty squarely into the Apple and Microsoft silos.
Now to see what other websites I can delete my accounts from going forward.