Could you give up social media for a day?
How about a week?
What if you gave up social media…gulp…forever?
Now that 2021 has arrived, I’ve started to review and revise many of my online practices. Sites I visit. Sources I trust. Privacy and preferences I need to review…
(If you’d rather not read about internet privacy, which, I can hardly blame you, please skip to the bottom of the newsletter for all the regular bits)
And anyway, I’m wrestling with the idea of giving up social media for good.
Like many of us, I see the good in social media, however, I’m also starting to really notice the not-so-good. Did you happen to have a chance to watch The Social Dilemma last year on Netflix? If you haven’t, please do. It’s a MUST WATCH documentary. If even a small portion of what the movie reveals is true, well, it’s just very disturbing to think about.
So what do I mean by social media, anyway? What exactly constitutes media that is social?
Facebook is the number one platform that springs to mind. Followed quickly by Instagram,and then probably Twitter. After that top tier, I’d probably go with Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube, maybe Tumblr, and perhaps Linkedin.
So back to my original thought: could you give them up? Well, first of all, are you even a user of social media? I actually haven’t met anyone who doesn’t use at least one or more (many more) of the platforms mentioned above. But I would love to talk to you if you don’t use any kind of social media.
Me? I tend to stick to Instagram and Facebook.
But that, I think, might change.
By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the new Terms of Service that Instagram put out, effective December 20, 2020. If you haven’t, and you use Instagram or Facebook (even if you don’t post anything on either of those platforms), I would strongly encourage you to look up the terms and give them a read.
Here’s a video that focuses on IG’s new updates (warning: he uses colorful language). At about minute 5:24 he talks about a strange new way Facebook/Instagram are managing “wrong think”. Now, all scariness aside, these are mostly not new changes.
Nope. Most of these bizarro guidelines (aka rules) have been in Instagram and Facebook’s terms of service since 2018. Facebook owns IG so they sort of share the same terms. The video author states that Instagram’s changes are nothing really to be worried about since they really aren’t new. But I found the terms to be concerning.
Give the video a watch and decide for yourself. Perhaps maybe balance it with this video from JP Sears, a satirist and comedian. He uses sarcasm to get his point across, but the fact remains there is quite a lot of privacy invasion going on with these two platforms.
Personally, I’m a bit nervous about the access to my address book, usage of my camera, and the monitoring-across-other- platforms-and-devices part. For these reasons, I’ve decided to make a few changes.
5 Ways to Make Social Media Safer in 2021
1. I’ve added a privacy slide to my laptop and phone. What’s a privacy slide? Here’s a link to what I’m talking about. Basically it puts a cover over your cameras so that they can’t be accessed by anyone else, unless you open the cover. Very easy. Very non-invasive. I also bought some for my kids’ computers since we are [still] doing online school and zoom calls.
2. I’ve taken a hard look at my privacy settings on my phone. To look at yours, on an iPhone look at: Settings / Privacy / Location Services (switch to off – you can always turn it back on if you need to) / Tracking (switch the “allow apps to request to track” to off), and then scroll down through each of the apps listed below “tracking”. You’ll see things like Contacts, Calendars, Local Network, etc etc. I made a point of turning off access to my Microphone, Camera, and basically everything else in there. I don’t use Siri. And I don’t allow any app to use my photos. If I need to change the usage allowance, it’s easy to do it when prompted inside an app, like Instagram.
3. I’m looking in to different social media. Parler instead of Twitter. MeWe instead of Facebook. Rumble instead of YouTube. Parler doesn’t censor like Twitter, and MeWe doesn’t track you or manipulate your feed like Facebook. Anyway, I’m just beginning to look into these platforms but I appreciate the fact that they aren’t as weird as the others in terms of what is private and what is not.
Another platform I am loving getting back into is Pinterest. Here’s my account if you’d like to follow.
Pinterest is a total blast for women AND men. It’s fun, it’s a minefield of a search engine, and it’s educational. You can literally find anything on there. I don’t know why I haven’t utilized it more. It’s a great way to save ideas for later, such as books you want to read, movies you want to watch, crafts you’d like to make, homeschool lessons for kids, road trips to take, etc. etc. I probably have 75 boards right now. It’s one of my favorite ways to find inspiration for novel writing as well.
4. I no longer use Google. Instead, I use DuckDuckGo. Why? Because I don’t like that Google tracks all of my searches and will autofill my request based on my location and what I’ve searched for in the past. They also manipulate the search results based on what they “think” I want to see. Again, I’m all about the privacy and being able to think for myself.
5. I’ve asked my children to ditch TikTok. Why? Because TT has been tied to some pretty shady security practices. Plus, it has recently come out that they are mining information from not only the user’s phone, but also from devices that the user is connected to (aka family plans, servers, etc). Here’s an article in Forbes that talks more about being informed about the risks of using TikTok.
PS: if you can’t stand being away from TikTok, Pinterest also posts the viral TT videos, without having to download the app.
Are you a social media user? Have you noticed the recent censorship going on? Which platforms do you like best? What are your thoughts on using social media going forward?
I apologize this month’s newsletter isn’t more light and fun. These issues of privacy were on my mind and I thought, well, maybe some of you would be interested in learning more about it, too.
Here IS one fun thing though: In December we scheduled a last-minute overnight trip up to Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood, Oregon. The historic site is closed to the public due to COVID, unless you are a guest of the lodge. Honestly I just wanted to sit in the lodge, smell the 24-foot Christmas tree, and watch it snow. Staying the night was an added bonus.
If you have the chance to take a trip up to Timberline, I would highly recommend making the drive. It’s a beautiful destination and the views from the lodge on a clear day are simply stunning.
Oooh, one more fun thing: have you watched Bridgerton on Netflix yet? This series is good. I mean, really, really good. First of all, it’s GORGEOUS to watch. The cinematography is the most captivating I’ve seen since Titanic. Second, the costumes are freaking incredible. So much color and detail and exquisite design. And the storyline is intriguing. I’m not one to watch back to back episodes of a series, but last night I nearly watched the entire first season, and only stopped because it was 2 a.m.
The show is based on the books by Julia Quinn. Have you read them? I hadn’t but now I plan to binge them all. Such a fun show!
Side note: here’s a fun article entitled Oh to be the Bridgerton Spoon. The ice cream-shop-spoon-licking-scene clearly made many of us swoon.
Here’s something else that’s totally random…I have been using the apple cider vinegar drink to help jump start my health this year. And guess what? It’s actually pretty good! I use a full glass of room temperature water and add two Tbsp of ACV, a little bit of maple syrup, and squeeze half a lemon into it. Mix and drink.
So far I have only really noticed two main benefits: one, my skin has become VERY clear. Which is fantastic. And two, I seem to have more energy in the morning. Which is also fantastic.
Many people say it is good for regulating blood sugars, and also helping to get rid of pesky belly fat (hello, sign me up), so I figured it can’t hurt, right? Here’s a link to the brand I use.
That’s all for January, folks. Stay safe out there. Stay healthy. Watch good TV, and don’t forget: read great books!