I think about my usage of the computer and Internet devices and review my process and how I get things done and think that I must be the oldest 26 year old online. I’m the very few non journalists that maintain a blog and actually write long form stories about my life. I rarely use Facebook anymore and still take photos with a real camera. I don’t use YouTube or Hulu or Netflix and am a proud DirecTV subscriber. All of my movies are in iTunes. I don’t rent or stream…I load from an array of external hard drives. I only follow 42 people on Twitter. Facebook doesn’t know my age or what I look like.
…and today, I’m pulling back further from the Internet.
For almost all purposes, this blog is for me. It’s a time capsule where my space isn’t rented but is paid for at $9.99 each month to give me the space to store files, blog and share my stories with the world. That’s the purpose of this blog. It’s my space. There are no advertisers and very little risk of my blog getting bought out or going under due to a lack of VC funding or failed monetization strategy. It’s nice that others read what I have to say but it really is my space on the web.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen a ton of great ideas fail. Most of the startups that I see ask users to give over data or as I like to call it, stories. “Come and give us your email, your information and download our app and give us your life story. We won’t charge you to use the service but, once there are 10 million users, we’ll begin selling ads targeted at life moments that you share with us.” Inevitably, the startups fails or is bought out by someone bigger who did figure out how to monetize stories.
Once the startup shifts, is bought out, fails or simply ceases to exist, every bit of your life from the stories, emotions, feelings and adventures goes missing. Very few startups allow us to take our data with us, to own our data that we generated and took time to upload. Maybe I’m crazy but it seems like we feel that we’re being paid in likes and comments. Instagram is free, the photos I upload are stored on their servers and held hostage but it doesn’t feel like I’m sending photos into a black hole because my moments are on the timelines of people who follow me for 5 minutes, are perhaps liked and commented on and then fade to a distant memory where neither I or my followers care to venture.
There are some of us that actually value our stories, our data and the time we spend curating and uploading the moments that we experience. Some of us would prefer to own our data, our moments, access the memories whenever we want and no amount of likes or retweets will make our moment more valuable than the tangible ability to have access to it forever. In addition, my love of ice cream sandwiches shouldn’t be followed up with a coupon to buy one of these sandwiches at a discount from the local grocer. The exploitation of my life is offensive.
Now that we have that out of the way, I’m putting my literal money where my memories are. This trend was already creeping up slowly since 2009. I’ve always paid for web hosting and then began to pay for Flickr. I maintained subscriptions to Pandora, Spotify and Backupify. I begged now failed startups like MemoLane to take my money and have asked large companies like Twitter, Facebook and Google to do the same.
I feel so alone in this decision. I feel like I am the only person on Earth who thinks paying for things is a good idea. Leaving a startup because it’s free perplexes everyone I know. Then, I hear resounding complaints when Gmail is down, when Google kills Reader and when Netflix suffers an outage. I host my own RSS server and mail servers now. I host my own blog, I own every single movie on multiple hard drives and I’ve started to pay for services who have made explicit promises to their users to put their customers first, the paying customers, the users of the product.
If you feel like I do and know in your heart that your time, interactions and memories are worth more than a banner advertisement, that your data belongs to you and not the government and you see value in having your memories forever and ever in a digital format, it’s time to switch away from companies who will sell you out at their first sigh of a dollar bill.
Below are a few alternatives to the most common online services we all user:
- Twitter —> App.net ($50 a year)
- Facebook —> Diaspora
- Yelp (local events) —> (Meetup $19 a month to host groups)
- Pandora, Spotify, Vevo, Rdio —> Local MP3 Files ripped from media you own
- YouTube —> No great alternative. Vimeo has far greater quality videos and is ad-free
- Netflix —> Your locally owned video rental store. More selection, no tracking of your usage patterns, no ads.
- DropBox, Google Drive, Amazon —> Small external portable drive. It fits in your pocket and is bus powered
- Instagram & Tumblr —> DayOne for iOS and there are similar journaling mobile applications with photo filters and such
- FourSquare —> No great alternative. Day One tracks your location and lets you poll FourSquare to attach a location to journal entries.
- Reddit —> No alternative but Reddit takes my money and provides a good service so I’ll continue to use it.
- RateBeer charges $13 a year for their service. Beer Advocate does not so that’s why I use RateBeer. they actually value their users as customers and not people to sell ads to.
There are paid for or less convenient alternatives to a lot of services we use. It’s easy to use Instagram but I’ve already outlined why you shouldn’t. It’s up to you to decide if you want to value your memories more than likes.
In a few weeks, I’m no longer going to be checking, visiting or communicating with anyone via Twitter or Facebook. I’m already using Meetup full-time, was already using all local video and audio files for entertainment. I was already not using YouTube, Netflix or any streaming audio services. DayOne was great for a while for mobile journaling and then I sort of got out of it but I’ll get back in.
Flickr still has me as a user despite being owned by Yahoo because they still take my money and provide value, uptime and developments but I’m slowly inching toward an alternative.
Overall, to those who know me, this isn’t a surprise. There may come a day when I’m no longer “social” on the Internet and just blog and take photos and spend more time away from the web. Who knows how social I’ll be in 10 years. For now, this is the deal. With just short of 80,000 tweets on Twitter and having been a member since the first anniversary of the service, I’m leaving. It’s difficult to say that one out loud because the service has served a great purpose to me. It’s value yes, it has been valuable to me. However, I’m tired of the advertisements and the potential that my data is not mine and so, that and Facebook are both on the chopping block first. It was nice knowing you
I imagine I’ll write more about this as time goes on.
These days, the best way to reach me is via email. Most of you know how to do that. Thanks for the follows, the replies, the retweets and such. My Klout score will drop but I think it’s time.