Simon Woods

Follow @simonwoods on

Cutting The Cord

I no longer want to be tied up in various accounts for platforms and services, to be tied to black-box style technology with which if you have any issues it just doesn’t work and you’re left to shrug and wait for things to get better. Of course I know that it would be ridiculous to have full and total control over every piece of technology, since that would involve constant maintenance and other investments for which the vast majority of people have no room in their already full lives. However, not every possible app and service is necessary – no, this is not an advert for Marie Kondo – and whenever I think about just how much control of my life I am handing over to corporations there is an inexorable sinking feeling, bordering on despair.

That’s kinda shit. So I’m not doing it anymore. Let’s look at what I’ve got:

  • iCloud
  • Google
  • Amazon
  • Microsoft
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

Those are the largest arbiters of my digital life, and I would imagine relatively common for the people who are most likely to read this, but that doesn’t mean they are the only ones in my sights; I’ll come back to the smaller platforms at a later date.

iCloud is not going anywhere; not only is Apple the only company talking about, and acting on privacy with any sort of semblance of truth but I am also working towards a goal of trying all-in with them, for which iCloud is essential.

Google is tough. To begin with it’s not going anywhere since I have a Pixel 2 and after trying a different Launcher (Microsoft’s no less) found performance and stability suffered massively when compared to the default set up; apparently Google are quickly taking Apple’s approach with regard to “controlling the experience”. It is highly unlikely that I’ll be able to change my phone for another year, so that’s Android set in place.

On top of this is YouTube, which is not as bad as it once was since I have massively cut the amount of regular series I watch but is still a gradual process; fortunately some of my favourite channels offer alternative methods for watching their videos, so I will work on moving over to those.

Beyond that I have moved my search over to a combination of DuckDuckGo and web-based resources such as directories and blogs, whilst I am happy with Fastmail for email. The only other catch is Maps, for which Apple and Bing are the best alternatives but they’re nowhere near as easy to access as Google on my phone and that is where I am likely to need a map the majority of the time.

Amazon is likely to stay. Between an ever reliable back-up for delivered shopping and Prime it is currently in a strong position. Although, the move to Apple might negate Prime whilst attaining one of our current big domestic goals, getting a car, would put a dent in Amazon’s power as a retailer. I would love to extract myself from their ecosystem entirely.

Microsoft is the current backend for my task management, such as it is, but that can change easily enough over time. Other than that is Windows 10 which is in a strange position; either it’s entirely fragile because of how much better Mac OS is or I’m not all that convinced by Mac OS and Windows becomes the unquestionable default for my desktop and laptop needs. Even if the operating system stays, there will still be options for third party software, such as they are on Windows.

Twitter has gone from the unquestionable social network for me to an entirely disposable, infected waste of space. My remaining account is used to convince people to join, a cost I am currently willing to pay since it is so entirely locked down and focused away from the maddening flood that is the inner-most thoughts of millions of people. Also: fuck Jack Dorsey.

Facebook stopped being my hub for anything years ago; I went from deleting my years-old account, to reactivating and maintaining it in “private mode” (LOL), to inevitably trashing it altogether. Since then Instagram, and to a lesser degree WhatsApp remained a hook into the ecosystem but they are both gone now. Much like the rest of these huge platforms, there are better alternatives for which my mental health is eternally thankful. Also: fuck Mark Zuckerberg.

I am now actively seeking out either non-account or non-services software for the bare essentials I need. We are in the era of Noise when it comes to software evolution for the masses and I no longer want to be weighed down by the mammoth task of moving the whole world to be plugged into one space.

Whilst I still believe it is true that these monopoly-abusing companies host the platforms upon which “everybody lives” to some extent, I simply no longer wish to bear the cost of it; I refuse to live my life by the compromised standards of other people.

• • •

I’ll be posting a follow-up to this, looking more into the future in a similar manner as I have written before now. I agree with Jack Baty with regard to where we ought to be putting our energy; great, I got rid of the thing that is bad, so what is next? Let’s all try to talk about that.

A number of other people have recently created work with which they reflect similar thoughts and approaches mentioned herein. To those people I am grateful for their contributions to these issues: