Tag Archives: google

How I Am Minimizing my Google and Amazon Usage

July 13, 2020

Culture and Society

As a law-abiding human being, I do not ask much out of the companies I do business with. I simply want good service and a quality product out of the deal in exchange for my money and continued patronage. With certain multi-national corporations however, I am getting far more than I ever wanted—and ominously so.

The ubiquitous Google empire, with its search engine, email, navigation, Android technology, productivity tools, and YouTube, certainly has numerous services it offers to anyone with access to the internet, but what we surrender is our privacy and personal information. It uses its services to enable algorithmic technology to process and predict our buying patterns and sensibilities. As if that was not bad enough, they probably know far more about us than we would reasonably allow if we actually had a say in the matter. (Google contends that we do. I do not believe them.)

Over the last three years, I have been phasing out my usage of Google. For my purposes as a filmmaker and musician, I cannot eradicate Google completely, but I have made progress.

Here’s a list of what I’ve done:

  • I do not use Gmail and have opted instead to use a company called Proton Mail that encrypts my emails and protects my data.
  • I do not use Google Chrome as my web browser. I use a browser called Brave that blocks all ads and internet trackers to maintain privacy .
  • I do not use Google Search and use an engine called DuckDuckGo that does not track or record your search history.
  • I do not use Google Docs, Sheets, Photos, or any of its document services. I generally stick to Microsoft products or a simple text program to meet most of my writing needs.

Now, with that said, Google still has its grubby tentacles firmly entrenched in my life. My cell phone uses Android software along with Google’s ridiculously convenient navigation system. I publish my weekly short films on Google’s YouTube platform because it’s free and is an effective way to get my film work out into the world.

Someday, I’ll find a cell phone that is not manufactured by Google or Apple that is just as good as those behemoths. One day, I will not need to publish my films on Youtube to get people to watch them. Until those days come, I’m stuck in my dance with the devil for now.

If anyone out there has thoughtful suggestions about what I can do to remedy this, I am completely open to possibilities.

More recently, given the insane amounts of profit Amazon has raked in during the current Coronavirus pandemic along with its mistreatment of its warehouse employees, this worldwide monopoly is my next target. I mean no offense to close friends of mine who work for Amazon, but I’ve started to extricate myself and my purchasing power from this corporate giant.

For starters, I have stopped using Kindle technology to read ebooks. I recently purchased a different e-reader called the Kobo Libra H2O to satisfy my modern reading needs. It’s made by a Canadian company named Rakuten and does everything that Kindle does (and more).

The other more tricky way that I am eliminating Amazon from my life is not ordering from them and ending my Amazon Prime subscription. I’ve started to patronize other online companies (like Sweetwater and B and H Photo and Video) to order the film and music supplies that I need. When my prime subscription runs out in less than a year, I will not renew. I have plenty to watch on Netflix already, in addition to SO MANY BOOKS to read!!

Maybe all of this is a fool’s errand, and these huge companies, one way or another, are virtually inescapable. But is it too much to want some degree of control and balance in my life regarding my privacy and freedom of choice?

I do not think so.

These massive monopolies wanting to have a hand in so much of what I do is all feeling a little too dystopian and “big brother-ish” to me, and this cannot be good.

I’m not stopping with Google and Amazon either. I’ve got my sights set on Apple and Facebook on the eventual horizon.

What are you doing to safeguard your personal information and freedom of choice? I am doing all that I can at the moment and plan on doing a lot more.

The World That I Envision

February 17, 2020

Culture and Society

The year is 2020. I question how far we have actually evolved as creatures on this planet. Certainly, we can travel to outer space and fly, but is this as good as it gets? How do we determine what that “good” is?

As I see it, we exist far away from who we could become, and these are two issues that stand at the core of what holds us back:

  • We constantly repeat a history of greed and colonialism.
  • We have not learned how to innovate without harming our natural environment.

Whether by force or economic means, countries impose control and dominion over others just as they have in the past. Poor neighborhoods with affordable housing are being consumed by gentrification and grubby realtors. We are polluting our air and water, and our oceans have become dumping grounds for plastic that will take thousands of years to biodegrade. Entire generations of people are obsessed with their cell phones and social media. Multi-national corporations such as every oil and gas company, Apple, and Google use their expansive influence and unlimited resources to further their own agendas.

Perhaps it’s not all bad because there are genuinely decent and kind people in the world, but is that enough?

I have some ideas for a different future—one in which human civilization thrives harmoniously with the physical environment and compassion supersedes greed as an inherent motivator.

I envision a world in which . . .

  • All societies take the time to understand and celebrate the values of their indigenous roots.

    Long before the industrial age, indigenous communities thrived all over the world by carefully and thoughtfully utilizing the vast natural resources of our planet. They planted their own food and went on fishing and hunting expeditions. They lived in smaller, sustainable communities and were true stewards of the land and its resources. Sure, they never knew the pleasures of indoor plumbing and air conditioning, but they clearly were fine without any of those modern amenities. It would be worthwhile to study and understand how these communities achieved so much with so much less than we have now.

  • We would get rid of cars.

    The invention of the automobile changed the trajectory of our modern lives. While I am grateful that it eliminated the use of cruel horse-drawn carriages, it created a Mount Everest-sized mountain of other problems. Instead of the more sustainable system of trains and railways that America and many other countries were using, the whole world switched to using cars which needed paved roads everywhere, hundreds of thousands of miles of highways in constant need of expensive upkeep/repairs, countless acres of land used for parking lots, air pollution due to smog from cars, landfills with millions of old and unused vehicles, daily car accidents all over the world that have killed and/or injured thousands upon thousands of people, and lastly, billions of dollars we all spend on gas, oil changes, tires, insurance, and so much more.

    Imagine what we could do with all of that land that we need for parking and highways? More green spaces? Schools? Playgrounds? Imagine how much money you could save not having to pay for a car? The possibilities are endless. We have sacrificed too much to have this convenience. Let’s bring back our trains and railways everywhere.

  • All municipalities would impose strict limits on housing rental rates.

    The concept of affordable housing is becoming more of a myth in virtually every developed country in the world. Rents increase, and this creates a flood of new problems. Poor communities (mostly immigrants and people of color) are priced out of their homes and displaced. Property values increase so much that only the absurdly wealthy can live comfortably in a good area (I’m looking at you San Francisco). Class lines become more clearly defined along racial lines. The creative class of artists (musicians, writers, visual artists) have to relocate, and this sucks the vibrancy and life out of a community.

    So, what if we had reasonable limits on what people could charge for rent? It would be a step forward toward creating a more equitable housing market that is sustainable for the long term. Families who need homes take care of their neighborhoods across several generations. Corporations that buy out entire neighborhoods only want the money.

I could go on endlessly, but these are just some of the ideas I have for a world that I envision. I write all of this to plant these ideas into the collective awareness of what we know.

Let’s use our powerful imaginations and ingenuity to do right by our planet and our future generations of humans. Our greed may only lead us to our demise, but compassion for all things can unlock limitless possibilities.