I’m a 17 year old high school student from the United States. I’m a tech enthusiast and I am passionate for practicing internet privacy, but I feel that my online lifestyle has put me at a serious social disadvantage, and I don’t know what to do about it.
My privacy journey started at the beginning of the pandemic. I began by switching search engines, deleting Instagram and Snapchat, and leaving Chrome. Eventually, I left Windows, and today I do a good chunk of my browsing through Tor. I’ve spend countless hours learning about every facet of privacy. It’s been about two years since I began, and I’m starting to reflect. What did I gain from doing all of this? Sure, big tech knows a lot less about me, but what else? Maybe it lets me sleep easier at night?
Leaving social media felt like a good decision at the time, but I’m starting to regret deleting it. I feel out of the loop for many social events, and people get weirded out when I respond with a “I don’t have X social media” when they ask me for handle/username. Leaving these platforms seems to have only made me feel better, while poorly impacting other aspects of my life. It isn’t just the social media that has turned into an issue, it’s the choices I make online. I don’t shout from rooftops that I’m obsessed with my privacy, but once in a while someone will notice I’m using DDG or Searx as my search engine and get confused and weirded out as to why I’m not using Google. To sum it up, I’m getting serious FOMO, which has been confirmed through many social interactions and events.
Today, I’m still passionate about privacy, but I’m feeling as though I’m ready to cave and get social media. While I will feel internal guilt and discomfort, it will make my social life a bit easier. Congratulations big tech. You’ve won me.