“I Cut the ‘Big Five’ Tech Giants From My Life. It Was Hell – Week 6: Blocking them all”
Gizmodo, February 7, 2019
Tech » Goodbye Big Five
By Kashmir Hill
“Over the course of five weeks, I blocked Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple one at a time, to find out how to live in the modern age without each one. To end my experiment, I’m going to see if I can survive blocking all five at once.”
A couple of months ago, I set out to answer the question of whether it’s possible to avoid the tech giants. Over the course of five weeks, I blocked Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple one at a time, to find out how to live in the modern age without each one.
To end my experiment, I’m going to see if I can survive blocking all five at once.
Not only am I boycotting their products, a technologist named Dhruv Mehrotra designed a special network tool that prevents my devices from communicating with the tech giants’ servers, meaning that ads and analytics from Google won’t work, Facebook can’t track me across the internet, and websites hosted by Amazon Web Services, or AWS, hypothetically won’t load.
I am using a Linux laptop made by a company named Purism and a Nokia feature phone on which I am relearning the lost art of T9 texting.
I don’t think I could have done this cold turkey. I needed to wean myself off various services in the lead-up, like an alcoholic going through the 12 steps. The tech giants, while troubling in their accumulation of data, power, and societal control, do offer services that make our lives a hell of a lot easier.
Earlier in the experiment, for example, I realized I don’t know how to get in touch with people without the tech giants. Google, Apple, and Facebook provide my rolling Rolodex.
So in preparation for the week, I export all my contacts from Google, which amounts to a shocking 8,000 people. I have also whittled down the over 1,500 contacts in my iPhone to 143 people for my Nokia, or the number of people I actually talk to on a regular basis, which is incredibly close to Dunbar’s number.
I wind up placing a lot of phone calls this week, because texting is so annoying on the Nokia’s numbers-based keyboard. I find people often pick up on the first ring out of concern; they’re not used to getting calls from me.
About the Author:
Kashmir Hill is the deputy editor for the Special Projects Desk, which produces investigative work across all of Gizmodo Media Group’s web sites. She writes about privacy and technology.
Video: Cutting the ‘Big Five’ Tech Companies From My Life Was Hell | Blocking Tech Giants: Week 6
Read the whole series:
- Life Without the Tech Giants: Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple collectively make products that we love, products that we hate (but… By Kashmir Hill, 1/22/19
- I Tried to Block Amazon From My Life. It Was Impossible – Week 1: Amazon. By Kashmir Hill, 1/22/19
- Video: I Tried Blocking Amazon From My Life | Blocking Tech Giants: Week 1
- I Cut Facebook Out of My Life. Surprisingly, I Missed It – Week 2: Facebook. By Kashmir Hill, 1/24/19
- Video: I Quit AND Blocked Anything Facebook Related | Blocking Tech Giants: Week 2
- I Cut Google Out Of My Life. It Screwed Up Everything – Week 3: Google. By Kashmir Hill, 1/29/19
- Video: Cutting Google From My Life Screwed Up Everything | Blocking Tech Giants: Week 3
- I Cut Microsoft Out of My Life—or So I Thought – Week 4: Microsoft. By Kashmir Hill, 1/31/19
- Video: Getting Rid of Microsoft Isn’t So Easy | Blocking Tech Giants: Week 4
- I Cut Apple Out of My Life. It Was Devastating – Week 5: Apple. By Kashmir Hill, 2/05/19
- Video: I Left Apple For A Week And It Hurt | Blocking Tech Giants: Week 5
- I Cut the ‘Big Five’ Tech Giants From My Life. It Was Hell – Week 6: Blocking them all
- Video: Cutting the ‘Big Five’ Tech Companies From My Life Was Hell | Blocking Tech Giants: Week 6
- Want to Really Block the Tech Giants? Here’s How. By Dhruv Mehrotra, 2/07/19