Process Post #9

This upcoming week’s podcast/reading about ‘digital breadcrumbs‘ or ‘digital trails’ provided a good reminder about the kind and volume of data that we leave behind on our digital devices.

According to Dr. Elisa Oreglia, our phones, in particular, engage in constant communication between cell towers, online networks, applications, and search engines, among others. This communication accumulates over time and is sent to several different places, she explains.

Over the course of a typical day, I use my phone for approximately four hours, and typically at least two of those hours are spent on social networking sites like Twitter or search engines like Google. So, in addition to the locational data that my phone shares via GPS and wireless networks, I’m likely sharing an absurd wealth of data and information with various parties every single day.

I know I’m probably supposed to say that this worries me, and I’m concerned about the privacy of my data and information. But honestly, I think I’m past the point of even caring, and that’s probably dangerous. We’re constantly bombarded with messages about accepting cookies, enabling location services, or connecting to Wi-Fi networks that for me personally, I stopped caring a long time ago.

I’m sure we’ve all heard that the human attention span has suffered greatly at the hands of digital devices and social media, and I do believe that plays a big part in my disregard for personal privacy. When I find myself on a website or application and I’m asked to enable location services or accept cookies, I almost accept involuntarily now. I can’t be bothered to read about my rights or decline the option and then experience limited service or none at all.

I’m now so used to finding information whenever I want it, wherever I am, that anything less than that seems like a major inconvenience. If I have to part with some of my data in return for efficiency, so be it. At least I’ve gotten what I wanted.

If it sounds like I’m spoiled, that’s because I am. I’ve owned a smartphone for more than a decade now and have too many other electronic devices in my apartment than I’d like to admit, from laptops to Apple TVs and gaming consoles. When I first started using all these devices, I was too young and naive to be informed about privacy or care about it. Now at 23 years old (there’s some free information for you), it feels like the damage has already been done. Easing off on public Wi-Fi networks or disabling location services now isn’t going to erase the years I spent doing the opposite. In the end, I care too much about the convenience of these devices that I’m willing to swap some data for it.

This post hasn’t exactly painted me in a brilliant light, but I doubt I’m alone in having these feelings about data and privacy. We all like to think that we’re protected, turning our social accounts to private and choosing not to publicly display our location, but the data is already out there somewhere, and it seems to make the world go ’round.

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