In this article, the first of a series that I will devote to live without Google, I will linger on the reasons that motivated me to start my ungooglisation journey. In the coming posts, I will reveal how I managed to (almost) completely quit Google using privacy-friendly alternatives.
Today it must be a lit bit more than a year since I seriously started my ungooglisation process. In this article, the first of a series that I will devote to live without Google, I will linger on the reasons that motivated me to start this process. In the coming posts, I will reveal how I managed to (almost) completely quit Google using privacy-friendly alternatives.
As you will see, it hasn’t always been an easy path to take. Even if some points can be improved, I am already getting a lot of satisfaction out of it.
The name of this blog is an excellent starting point to understand the why of my approach, especially the second term. Rewild … Rewild as rewild or undomesticate. My desire to create a less alienated, wilder and freer way of living has led me to undertake many changes in my life (like finding a piece of land where I could live in the middle of Nature on a mountainous island – but that’s another story!). And among these changes was the desire to no longer depend on a multi-billion dollar and over-powerful company to manage my digital life.
It was unthinkable for me to continue my approach while remaining captive to Google. Thanks to my consensual use of their services, a large part of my life was recorded, classified and analyzed by their algorithms with the sole purpose of making money out of my data sold to advertising companies.
My personal data (hence life) no longer held any secrets for Google, which knew everything about me: who I visit, where I go, my questions, my favorite subjects, the content of my correspondence, my lifestyle, my biometric parameters and much more. Like hundreds of millions of other individuals, I was totally alienated from Google.
By using their free services, I was actually volunteering for them. I actively participated in the creation of the monster that Google became and became one of their slaves. Through rather harmless acts (exchanging emails, saving photos, watching videos, etc.) I was actively feeding mass surveillance capitalism.
With Google, it is the first time in the history of mankind that a company is able to know and analyze every little detail of actions and thoughts of hundreds of millions of individuals. But also to influence their behavior. The algorithms of the giants of the web are not neutral and their functioning remains a secret. In particular, they participate in the cleavage of society through what Eli Pariser has called filter bubbles.
Moreover, as an advertising agency, Google does everything possible to make you addicted to its services, with the sole aim of maximizing the chances that you will interact with their targeted advertising. We talk about attention economy. Attention has become the new black gold and companies like Google will do anything to capture yours. Their applications are designed to steal your time and enslave you. Google’s engineers (and not only) have figured out how to get you hooked. Their applications and increasingly complex artificial intelligence algorithms are designed to influence your primitive brain and its reward system based on dopamine, the pleasure hormone. As says Tristan Harris, a former Google employee:
Tech is downgrading Human.
Google is a concentration of power never before encountered. The company that was, just 20 years ago, a small web startup is now able to influence the course of humanity according to its own vision, a vision that may well not be yours (unless you consider yourself as a transhumanist).
If your addiction, or even your enslavement to Google doesn’t give you the creeps, and if you don’t feel concerned by mass surveillance because you think you have nothing to hide, I invite you:
- to visit the website “dégooglisons internet” of the french Framasoft association,
- to (re)consider the revelations of the whistleblower Edward Snowden,
- to watch the documentary Nothing to Hide directed in 2017 by Marc Meillassoux.
You may well change your mind and see your relationship with your smartphone from another angle. In my opinion, the GAFAMs’ hold on our lives is as critical an issue as global warming. It’s a threat that can damage the balance that supports the lifestyles of all humanity (I’ll try to take the time to detail this vision in a future article).
My approach to a rewilded lifestyle had to go through the ungooglisation process. What I mean by rewilding does not mean a rejection of technology and a return to the Stone Age. As Bernard Stiegler puts it:
technology carries the worst as well as the best.
Rather, it is about regaining control over one’s life and living more freely, living more in tune with one’s true human nature, shaped by millions of years of evolution in a non-technocentric world. It is about living more critically and consciously in relation to the conventions and expectations of the society in which we evolve (we will see all this in another article) but also in relation to the technological tools we use. So nothing prevents us from starting a process of rewilding while using open source technological tools, for example. In my opinion, the question is not whether or not we accept the technology but rather what technology do we accept and what use do we want to make of it?
And in any case, in our modern societies, whether we like it or not, technology is imposing itself on us and we have to deal with its growing influence. Not being able to master technology is today a source of exclusion as much as illiteracy. Nevertheless, we can fight to ensure that an awareness of the critical use of technology emerges. By whom is it developed? For what purpose? With what conditions of use? With what implications for our way of life? These are, in my opinion, the right questions to ask ourselves when faced with our daily use of technological tools. My ungooglisation process is therefore in no way a rejection of technology and the digital world.
The Internet is a formidable invention. Do we really want this invention to be reduced to a tool for monitoring and controlling the population dominated by a handful of over-powerful actors in cahoots with intelligence agencies? For my part, the answer is no. My attempt to ungooglise myself is therefore part of a process to escape from the enslavement of entreprenocraty, to regain freedom, and to fight against the predation of my existence.
In a next article I will reveal a first series of alternatives that you can easily implement to significantly reduce your dependence on Google. I have taken the time to enrich this article with many links so that you can by yourself continue digging into the subject. I hope it will at least have aroused your curiosity. This article is only a reflection of my current vision and I will be happy to hear your feedbacks and thoughts in the comments, regardless of your opinion of my approach.
To go further :