About a week ago I finally started my move off of Google. For more than a year I’d been going to duckduckgo.com for searches, but I was doing it through the Google Chrome browser. I set up a ProtonMail email address, but never used it.
Both of those things changed this past week and it’s been about the adjustment I anticipated.
It’s just like moving into a new phone, or a new interface of some kind: everything seems crazy because nothing is what you’re used to, but over time “crazy” becomes the new normal and that becomes what you’re used to.
The difference between past experiences and this one is that this one is voluntary. When Facebook or an email service would change things up dramatically “to improve the user’s experience,” peoples eyes would pop out of their heads with frustration. When that software update on your phone ends up adding things you hate, removing things you loved and putting all of it in places that are harder to find, strongly-worded emails and social media posts would follow.
But with all of it, before long, we as users are completely up to speed and moved into the “new normal,” whatever it may be.
When you’re creating a bunch of “new tech normals” for yourself because you feel it’s the responsible thing to do and not because you necessarily want to, it can be even more frustrating and take longer.
And that’s where I am.
For example, most of what I do online is usually related to my writing so I’ll typically have several tabs open with several drafts going that I might work on over the course of several days. Using the actual DuckDuckGo browser, I don’t have any tabs. Instead there’s a little box in the top right hand corner with a number in it (the number of tabs you have open), and you have to click that little box to open a new page that shows all your open windows. And to make things even more interesting, that little box went away after the first few days, so now I have to hover my cursor toward the top of the screen to even get it to appear again. Then I keep the cursor there so the little box doesn’t disappear again, then click the box, then find the window, then navigate to it…all while hopefully still remembering what the heck it was I wanted to write/look up/do!
It sounds small because it is small, but it feels big if you’ve spent years just being able to glance up and see all your windows in tab form instead of having to look up, hover, wait, look, click, open a new window, see all your open windows in miniature form, and then select the one you want to jump to. It’s intellectually tedious at a time when things are taxing enough, and has at this point prevented me from publishing at least 5 pieces at a time when my writing has inexplicably become a lot better than it had been for months prior. (I actually started this endeavor a day or two after publishing 7 pieces, all of which were around or under 500 words. That’s a real feat for me!)
Still, I’m light years from being convinced that me “publishing” in the short term is more important than seeing this through in the long term, so I just keep getting up every day and going back to my new set up.
DuckDuckGo for my browser, and ProtonMail for my email.
Another annoying and frankly embarrassing flaw in my first steps here is that I’m doing all of it from a Chromebook-driven laptop, and from an Android-driven mobile device.
That means all these changes I’m doing, and probably every keystroke, are still being monitored by Google and all their friends across big tech and the intelligence community. And that’s fine. My objective in the long term is to get my privacy back, but in the short term it’s getting comfortable with some of the tools that will allow us to do that.
So if they get to watch me fumble around as I head for the exits, so be it. I’ll get another laptop soon and it will never once in its life ever login to a Google account or go to Google.com so, to the best of my ability, they’ll never again get even a glimpse at my network or data.
Last night I finally banged out 2 very quick pieces using the DuckDuckGo browser. (I wasn’t able to upload images for some reason so I had to go back to Chrome for that part, but I’ll figure that out in time.) I then sent the two pieces out to a very small list using ProtonMail. That, too, was different because in Gmail I have an “LBA” list set up with about 30 names on it and I can send to everyone with one click. I haven’t figured that out in ProtonMail yet so I just added the four who are most responsive and will probably keep doing that for the foreseeable future, maybe adding another name or two and eventually seeing about manually rebuilding an address book.
Soon I’ll write about having completely finished the job. Because I’ve also been researching various navigation tools for driving, and I’m now debating between giving that “Freedom Phone” thing a try, or learning more about Lineage OS (the operating system installed on Freedom Phone) on my own.
One of those 2 things will happen because you can’t “leave Google” while still relying on them for your mobile device. The same is true for Apple. These two monsters absolutely hate us and yet the vast majority of us fork over thousands of dollars and 100% of our privacy to them every year.
I’ve finally taken the first steps in a meaningful way, and it’s been about as tricky as expected but still such a tiny price to fight back and finally start protecting my privacy from Big Tech’s trembling virgin collective of over-medicated psychopaths. There’s absolutely no reason that the entire right half of our nation can’t give big tech the middle finger with or without legislative action. It’s getting slightly easier to do because there’s a growing market for it, and people like me — who know very little about tech and are easily confused and sidetracked by this stuff — are finally stepping up and doing it ourselves where and when possible.
Both of those trends will continue. It will keep getting easier, and more people will keep doing it. This is me writing about my first steps. It’s tricky now but I legitimately get excited thinking about the finish line, especially when I think about being able to help others come along.
Imagine a future where Google and Apple are just has-beens who have no pull outside of communist countries like California and China. Now either start helping create it, or stay committed to the idea and tuned for the increasingly easy path.
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