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Conflict and Compromise: My 6 W's

7 min read

Zuckerberg, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin

 

How strong are your beliefs and how do your convictions hold up when they are they put to the test? In other words, when do you compromise?


Standing up for what you believe in is one thing that people are doing much more these days. Whether it is not vaccinating your children, refusing to hire white men, or the recent attack on the US government for separating families crossing the border illegally, people are loudly fighting back. It leaves me conflicted because fighting isn’t how we accomplish things. Protests gets you heard, but the work is done through working together in a discussion.

War

As someone who is working on mental health, I read a lot about suffering. Many psychologists and therapists are fond of Eastern philosophy because various mental illnesses result in people isolating themselves. Thus, the Buddhist concept that everyone is suffering is a great way for people like me to see that we aren’t truly isolated. So, when someone attacks me for being pro-choice, they are inflicting suffering. The intention is not to get me to change my mind, but bring me pain.

But Chris, compromise doesn’t work with many people, especially if you flip the argument above. I’m pro-choice and I’m never going to get someone who bombs abortion clinics to compromise.

Good point. Violence works. Yup. No more babies died when the abortion clinic was bombed. Oh wait, anyone inside the clinic was once a precious life that was snuffed out by the bomb. So how does anger, conflict, and violence get things accomplished any better than talking? It makes our egos feel pleasure, but it never helps the situation.

Words

How about this, do you use Google to search online? It’s the best, better than the other search engines, right? How do you know that? For many, that opinion was formed through word of mouth. The options were Dogpile, Yahoo, Lycos, Excite, Ask, AOL, but after many years of word of mouth and advertising we use the company name as a verb, “Let me Google that.” Marketing is essentially just talking, and advertisers have us buying $1000 phones every 2 years because we need them.

There’s no secret cabal that meets once a year in a secluded location to discuss how to keep women out of positions of power and men from feeling emotions. The damage is done by the stories, words, we’ve been teaching our children for decades. Girls are delicate and boys are tough. “No daughter, you cannot play hockey, it is a rough man’s game. Son, stop crying and suck it up.” Words. We give them so much power. It should be no surprise that we use words in our own heads to start conflicts and fights. “Did that car just cut me off? No one disrespects me like that!”

Weigh

What warrants compromise? This is my current dilemma. More on that in a second. First, compromise brings us back to suffering. Is someone’s belief in pro-choice, Muhammad, Trump, the Redwings, cycling, or polyamory more important than their relationship with you? In the end it always comes down to people. Will I refuse to be your friend because your religious beliefs differ from mine? Will I suffer by staying quiet when the subject comes up or is it an opportunity for me to make you suffer by telling you how wrong you are? Can we talk about it without fighting? I suppose that’s the goal– respecting each other to have different opinions and beliefs.

Wavering

When respect comes into play we return to compromise. For example, my vegetarian spouse has a no meat policy when it comes to herself. As I respect this conviction, I cook vegetarian meals. She, in turn, honours my desire to eat meat occasionally. Her strong principles don’t prevent her from having dinner with me. Furthermore, she continues to be in a relationship with the carnivorous gas bag that I am.

My current dilemma revolves around privacy and data. I have no desire to use Facebook, Google, or any of their creations. Doing so is agreeing to how they use not just my data, but that of any of my contacts. My spouse told me to contact a hotel using their WhatsApp number. We were trying to book the hotel for an upcoming trip. This process has broke something inside me.

I need to book the hotel, but am I willing to install something I do not trust for this purpose? I mean, I am already on Facebook to compromise with those people who refuse to try other methods of communication. I use Instagram and Hangouts for a similar reason. So, I must not be willing to stand-up for my convictions about privacy and data, right? This is not a worthy cause to me, huh? Damn it, yes! It is.

Writ

Clicking the button to agree with terms of service in Gmail allows Google and 3rd party developers to read your email conversations which means you’re giving away other people’s privacy even if they are not Gmail users and never clicked “yes.” That box that you think is so annoying every time you sign up for a new trending service or app is a legal writ. And so, by using WhatsApp to talk to the hotel I’ve given my identity and my contacts to Facebook legally.

As an aside, both co-founders of WhatsApp have left the company. First, Brian Acton bounced to form a nonprofit focused on privacy and public good. “This isn’t just important for select people in select countries. It’s important for people from all walks of life in every part of the world. Everyone deserves to be protected.” Recently, Jan Koum departed WhatsApp, after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Worthy

I think it is time to be more like my incredible spouse. Perhaps, I should treat my feelings about data privacy as she treats vegetarianism. Maybe, I would feel better about myself if I stop compromising to make others happy. While my simple protest may not change the world or these data giants, I will suffer less. I can feel good about my decisions and myself.

Over the years, I have found a number of great, open, decentralized services to replace FB, Twitter, Google, and more. I currently host my own Nextcloud to replace Google Drive or Dropbox. I have my own email address, instead of Gmail. I use DuckDuckGo for search. My personal website has been syndicating my posts to FB and Twitter instead of me posting those places directly (a function will stop working soon). Though, I have been spending more time on Mastodon for social networking and chatting with friends. The Twitter-like service is self-hosted by many people and regardless of the server you choose using Joinmastodon.org, they all communicate with each other. It is similar to email, it doesn’t matter where you sign up, or if you host your own. You can still connect with friends. There’s no trade off, your data isn’t being sold or leaked because there is not central authority or shareholders to satisfy.

This is not an easy decision as so many of my friends and family may simply put the onus on me to contact them. So, is this my depression telling me to isolate or a strong conviction? The best answer is to take the reigns and reach out to people through other means. I can call and text my friends and family. Why do I need FB to do that? Of course, I will miss their images and sharing, but we have email and other ways to share. In August, I will begin the process of being true to myself and convictions. Much <3

My last post reminded me why I stopped using WordPress. Every single plugin has some stat tracker from the developer, slowing your site down and possibly invading the privacy of visitors.

You can just watch the NSA facial recognition database grow as people post their Google portrait matches. Just kidding, Congress stopped bulk data collection. And if you believe that, you also believe Google will not misuse the image of your face.

Privacy is over. Cars that used to bring us freedom, will become Big Brother. https://hackernoon.com/autonomous-vehicles-and-the-end-of-privacy-9c3712f3494f#.m6jbxz6tw Thanks for sharing Christian.

Who is listening? The FB app, your TV and your iOS/Android/Amazon devices. The upside? Privacy-minded individuals will evolve.

Decentralizing Me

5 min read

centralized social networks

Welcome to my new space on the web. This site is the next step in controlling my data. I’ve stopped using Google Search, Gmail and the rest of the Google services in order to maintain my privacy and choose how I share my content. I no longer wish to be a product. Say what soapbox man? Search you are the product and learn all about how you aren’t a customer of Facebook or Google.

Why are we still using AOL?

In the internet’s infancy, you had to know the address, the URL for the page that you wanted to visit. While so many internet service providers were merely connecting people to the World Wide Web, America Online created a centralized network. They offered services, chatrooms and pages within their network. At one point, AOL had so many users that advertisers would rather have a page & keyword there than build a webpage online. Many AOL users had no need to access the world wide web, nor did they know how. This single company had a large amount of influence over online users until broadband internet came along and the even bigger cable companies were able to pull people off of AOL.

As the web and search engines grew, we no longer needed to have the exact URL recorded somewhere. The new search engines were so frequently visited that they were the best place to advertise. The data search engines recorded also became useful to advertisers.

Which terms do people search most often?

Which pages did users click on when using that term?

Who are these users?

How do you build your site so it appears at the top of a search?

Then, social networks like Twitter & Facebook came into existence. Now advertisers could get all sorts of user data. People who were reluctant to give out phone numbers and email addresses to online retailers were more than happy to share both (and so much more) with friends & family through the social networks.

Much like AOL back in the day, these new social networks are so popular that some of us feel compelled to join them because they’re the only way to communicate with some of our friends & family (not that it works). Once again, we are using a centralized service. One where we have to sign up and agree to give up our data to advertisers in order to participate.

Known example

This website built using Known is a small step to changing that. My posts here are syndicated to the larger networks I choose. In other words, the data originates here and is under my control to share with Facebook/Twitter/Google at my discretion. As you can see above, Twitter & FB likes & comments show up here to continue the conversation. No, it’s not the perfect solution because I am still part of these centralized data collection systems. Instead, it’s more like a hybrid car. Obviously, transportation must stop relying on nonrenewable resources and a hybrid that still uses gas is not the answer.

What Is The Real Solution?

Known is built on the principles of the IndieWebCamp which has already built some really great tools to make this happen. Webmention is a magical protocol that allows individual websites to communicate with each other. Well, it seems magical to me because I’m no programmer (yet, here I am using it)! My very intelligent acquaintance Jenna has built his website from the ground up and it uses Webmention. I’m not as smart as Jeena, but Known has Webmention built in as well. Here on this site, I commented on a post Jeena made on his site. When you visit Jeena’s original post you will see my post as a comment.

Webmention works like email. That is, you and I don’t need to be members of the same central provider to communicate. I can send an email to your Gmail account, even though I don’t use Gmail. That’s the incredible power of a decentralized system. Imagine a world where you didn’t need to join Twitter to stay connected to brother, Instagram to see pictures of your nephew and Facebook to receive invites to events.

We live in a world where so many of us are eager to be their own bosses. So why sign a convoluted contract? These user agreements are so full of policy loopholes they need their own web pages. Why not take control of your data? I encourage to check out Known to host your own site and support the great project. Those of you with a technical background can download Known and put it on your own domain or poke around the IndieWebCamp site to learn how to learn how to implement the principles.

geek and poke free model

a Geek & Poke cartoon shared via Attribution 3.0 CC

Get your loved ones off Facebook.

The link above is a really informative read on Facebook. Aside from the privacy issues that bother me, I really like what Virani says about the argument for FB being a great way to communicate with friends and family. Turns out, it's not a good tool at all:

...there's a big disconnect between your expectations when you communicate on Facebook and what really happens. Basically, Facebook filters out your posts based on whether or not people will use Facebook more if they don't see it.

It feels like Facebook is the only way to stay in touch. Through pictures and comments. It feels like everyone's on there and you're getting a good feed on their life.

In reality, lots of your posts are never seen by anyone! And you miss out on their stuff too. Even if your friends' stuff gets to you fine, it doesn't mean your stuff gets to them.