Quitting Facebook. Renouncing Uber. Avoiding Amazon. There have never been more or greater reasons for turning your back entirely on much of Big Tech.
The last few years have brought an endless stream of scandals and unflattering revelations. There aren’t many starry-eyed optimists left who still believe that Silicon Valley is just here to build a better world. We’ve almost all come to accept the fact that Big Tech is here less to help the world and more to devour it.
If you’ve reached a similar conclusion, the natural dichotomy is one of apathy vs revolt. And let’s face it, apathy is the far more common out. What am I, in my lonely being, able to do in the face of such power and abuse? Best not to think about it too much, and – will you look at that! – these companies are experts at helping you not think about the structure and stranglehold of their businesses.
Revolt: deleting your accounts, swearing off the services, advocating for alternatives, is draining and even isolating work. No wonder most people can’t fit in such a fight in their daily routines of anxiety. Quitting cold turkey ain’t no feast.
But these aren’t the only options! You don’t have to either resign yourself to your utter insignificance or don a cape while shouting in the wind. There’s power in the margins. Tremendous power.
We don’t all need to quit Facebook outright, foreswear Uber entirely, and never shop at Amazon again to have an impact. All of these companies are already walking a precarious tightrope of towering expectations. They don’t need to miss a quarter by more than a few percent before it’s a calamity that’ll get everyone’s attention.
So here’s what you can do: A little bit. It helps. Really.
If you are addicted to cigarettes, you don’t have to stop smoking from one day to the next to do your lungs a favor. Going from two packs of unfiltered to one pack of filtered is real progress! Your lungs will no doubt thank you for the step forward, even if they might not-so-secretly wish you’d quit altogether some day.
And it’s easier to eventually quit fully if you’re down to just a few than if you’re smoking forty a day. Every day it’ll get a little easier, but you gotta do it. That’s the hard part. But it gets easier. (And you’re not a terrible human or a failure if you occasionally regress a little).
So it goes with patronizing Big Tech. If you’re giving Facebook an hour a day at the moment, you can either start by only giving it an hour every other day, or cut it to thirty minutes. That’s still hard, habits are stubborn, but it’s not as hard as going cold turkey from one day to the next. And your brain, along with the rest of society, will thank you for the progress.
You can even mix and match. I’ve given up cold turkey on Uber, Facebook, and Instagram, but with Amazon simply cut down my purchases to a minimum rather than zero (canceling Prime helped with that impulse!). I just enjoyed a three-week break from Twitter, but will return there shortly. It’s not all or nothing. Something counts. Something works.