Notes from the Desert Day Four

Day Four (Links for Days One, Two, and Three)

I meditated this morning and completed my re-reading of Awareness (discussed in this week’s earlier posts). I wrote in my handwritten journal, too.

I wrote about something I am reticent to mention here. In fact, I’ve decided not to. I don’t feel comfortable sharing certain thoughts. But why? I ask myself. What does it matter?

Past experience has shown me, in harsh terms, the dangers of keeping things bottled up. Yet some things are really hard to share. Total honesty is extremely hard — perhaps, even impossible. The perceived risks are too great.

My reticence is a reminder of the hold others’ perceptions have over me. I don’t like it, but I’m too afraid to buck it, even when I suspect others could benefit from reading or hearing it.

Of course, nothing I could possibly share would be unique to me. The range of human experiences, thoughts, feelings, and emotions are not limitless; a certain commonality binds us together. It is why (together with my religious upbringing) I prefer to think of us as brothers and sisters, even though we live much of our lives as aliens, competitors, oppressors, and victims.

Perhaps some good would come to others (or myself) from sharing. But perhaps not. Perhaps I’d regret it. And that’s sufficient reason to hold back — the possible regret and hurt, that is.

I know I am too easily hurt. I’m endeavoring to better understand the reasons why. With such understanding, I may become immune to such hurt, which, of course, would make for a more contented life.

For so much of my life I had to keep so many of my thoughts and experiences private. Public disclosure is not an option in the corporate world, where everyone has to pretend they “have it together” and don’t harbor any unconventional or radical opinions, aspirations, or values. Conformity and compliance are valued above all else. The risks to one’s career in shattering those expectations can be severe. So everyone pretends. And holds their cards close to the vest. I can’t be the best way to live one’s life. But it’s our destiny, it seems.

The risks are much less if not nonexistent today, at this point in my life when I’m financially independent and, therefore, free from the threat of economic injury inflicted by employers or clients. Yet I am still not free it seems — free to share freely and fully, that is. I wonder where that fear is rooted. I think I should find out.

In the meantime, I am settling in. I’m getting more comfortable with the loneliness. The solitude. Indeed, it seems the loneliness is transforming into aloneness, which is essential for the purpose at hand. The lack of distractions — the space to focus, reflect, and meditate — is essential, at least for me.

For much of the first three days I was questioning whether coming here was such a good idea. Last night and today it seems clear it was.

In the desert.

Have Privacy and Freedom Collapsed?

Do you think privacy and freedom aren’t under attack? Then perhaps you should spend a few minutes and watch this.

In the short term, my hope lies with the E.U. and the market. And the hope that the threat of revenue loss will constrain those who know our every move and thought. With whom we entrust with more than we’ve ever entrusted anyone before.

In the meantime, I’m off the parasitic Facebook. It’s a small but important step for me. Mark Zuckerberg is simply not to be trusted to protect and respect my privacy. And the addiction he peddles should have no place in my life. I have too many other addictions to battle; I don’t need another one.

Google isn’t to be trusted either. But I have yet to find an acceptable substitute. I hope one appears soon.

Now my focus is Amazon and Jeff Bezos. It seems clear to me that Mr. Bezos isn’t to be trusted. Not with my information. Not with Americans’ freedom. My goal is to thin out the tether that connects me to his empire and database.

Before it’s all said and done, I suspect there will be more intense battles for the sake of privacy and freedom. At least I hope so. Otherwise, democracy will surely be lost. Forever.

How Will the Lack of Privacy Affect Your Life?

Your world, Vera, will be very different from mine. And I wonder what it will be like. Sometimes, I’m excited by the possibilities; sometimes, I fear the possibilities. One thing that concerns me the most if the utter lack of privacy you’ll encounter. And the power that puts in the hands of others, particularly, those who are intent on using power only for their own self interests. The glimpses we are already afforded into that world are disturbing. Continue reading

If You’re on Facebook but Care about Privacy

Don’t delude yourself: if you really cared about your privacy, you wouldn’t be on Facebook.

Or you’d be on it but:

  • would not enter any bio info;
  • would never post anything; and
  • would never click a Like or emoji.

But if you’re on Facebook and sharing fully, while clinging to a belief that your information is somehow protected from whatever disclosures, sharing, and use Facebook deems to be in its best interest, then you’re pretty na├»ve.

Moreover, if you’re using Facebook as your primary source of news, then you’re probably worse off than not being informed at all. There are worse things than ignorance.

And if you believe whatever propaganda comes your way, whether it’s delivered via Facebook, Fox, MSNBC, the pulpit, the classroom, or any other outlet, without subjecting the claims to scrutiny and skepticism, then you’re a tool. You really shouldn’t vote or participate in public discourse of policy issues. Leave the decisions to the skeptics and people who at least try to discern what’s really going on in the world (as opposed to the twisted views of ideologues or devious people who are trying to manipulate public opinion merely to serve their own selfish interests).

Personally, I’m not all that concerned about privacy. But I’m very concerned about humans’ susceptibility to propaganda. And our capacity to fool ourselves.