Suppose we are privileged enough to have access to advanced technology and more or less unlimited internet connection. In that case, another level of our individual sovereignty comes under attack – digital sovereignty. The pay-off for this globally connected web is our attention and agency.
It is known that social media companies, in particular, profit from the addiction of its users. The outrage, confusion and continual dopamine hit these companies rely upon are obviously higher on the company’s values, than the well-being of people using the applications.
“The average person checks their phone 150 times a day. Why do we do this? Are we making 150 conscious choices?”
― Tristan Harris
Your Information is their Goldmine
Big tech is vying for every bit of data they can get on you. It is worth an absolute fortune to them. Predominantly, they sell data to advertisers to fill the demand of our consumerist lifestyles.
The more information they can get on an individual, the easier it is to market goods and services. Notice how you question whether the phone reads your mind – ‘I was only thinking about this 2 hours ago’. The reality is somewhat different. You have probably been subconsciously hoodwinked into thinking you desire an object; or the data you have given, including your search history, has been mined.
Don’t blame these people as such, it is only our lack of sovereignty that allows this to happen. Taking back your digital sovereignty is the solution, not their demise.
Reliance on Technology
We are increasingly reliant upon technology, particularly since the COVID19 ‘lockdowns’. This brings its own challenges and dangers. Although there is no argument that the interconnectivity and efficiency of a lot of techs have enormous benefits for the individual and collective, providing sovereignty and agency are recognised within the individual.
Ask yourself the question now. How would your day be without a mobile phone or access to the internet for 24 hours? How would your psychology be affected?
It isn’t easy to have a healthy relationship with technology. I believe we have technologically evolved before our psychological and spiritual evolution. This inevitably creates an imbalance in the overall well-being of a Human Being.
Most people act mindlessly with tech. Are you digitally sovereign at this point? Or have you been hoodwinked?
The Tech Trade Off
As with any trade, there is a give and a take. In the age of ‘orange’ capitalism (Spiral Dynamics), the trade is often heavily one-sided. One half of the transaction may not even realise what the trade-off is or that one exists in the first place.
Considering social media, how often do you click on the little blue Facebook symbol and mindlessly scroll for 10 minutes, unconsciously seeking that dopamine hit.
An unfortunate trade-off for excessive technology use is human connection. Imagine walking the streets of Venice with your loved ones without the use of google maps (or alternative). It may take you a lot longer to find your destination, but you’d probably have had a great time (and arguments) in the process.
Google maps may be efficient, but is it worth it? After all, they know exactly where you are, all of the time.
Intention – What are you using it for?
How many times have you mindlessly picked up your phone today? Probably more than 20. What gain to you get from it? Probably very little.
With such a low barrier to entry, it is tough to have a healthy relationship with modern tech. The first step to overcoming this addiction is admitting we have lost ourselves in it from time to time.
One thing that has helped me is to set a firm intention every time I pick up my phone. Once that intention has been met, the phone gets put down.
For example, ‘I’m picking up my phone to call my dad about the football’. Once that is complete, the phone is put back down, which stops the potential 15 minutes mindless scrolling on Instagram.
Recommended Digital Sovereignty Applications
I moved over to Brave after a recommendation by a good friend. Brave blocks ads and website trackers whilst also allowing you to earn and pay content creators. They pay you to use the browser in BAT (Basic Attention Token) which is the browsers own crypto.
I’ve been paid around £100 for simply using Brave over the last 8 months, without donations from other users. Since I began using it, there has been a massive adoption in the browser. It comes highly recommended.
The Freedom App simply blocks all sites and apps that cause distractions, and it’s really cheap for a superb service. Be careful, though! There is a ‘Locked Mode’ which doesn’t allow you to get onto these apps no matter what!
This app alters the colour temperature on your mac/windows device. If you study circadian rhythms, you’ll know the importance of blue light and its effects on sleep. This app just works in the background once you’ve set it up.
Allows you to track the time you spend on your phone and which apps you’re using the most. You can also link your device to your family members devices; which is great for parents.
There is an option of a Moments ‘coach’ that gives you guidance on shifting the relationship you have with your phone.
Most of us will have been down the YouTube rabbit hole with the recommended videos. This Chrome add on is a little gem which removes all of the recommended videos.
If you use YouTube for educational purposes, this is a superb little tool.
‘Anti-censorship’ Platforms for Digital Sovereignty
There is an uneasiness at the moment with the amount of censorship across numerous social media platforms. I list a few alternatives below.
This is an alternative video streaming platform to YouTube. I think it’s a bit clunky in comparison but with enough funding I think this could compete with YouTube, especially in certain categories of interest.
Another video streaming platform. The also have their own crypto token (LBC) where you can receive and contribute to content creators.
I really like this platform and as it gets more popular I think you can make a lot of money with its own crypto token.
It is also decentralised which is a massive benefit over BitChute and YouTube.
MeWe calls itself the ‘next-gen’ social network. I like it although think it has a long way to go to challenge Facebook which seems its most likely
It has no ads, no targeting and no newsfeed manipulation.
Heavily encrypted messenger service. Messages can self-destruct for security.
A censorship free platform similar toTwitter. At one point this was the most downloaded app in the world as Twitter was getting a lot of heat for censorship.
Digital Sovereignty Tips
As mentioned earlier, a lot of modern technology is purposely created to become addictive. One of these addictive techniques is the use of bright colours.
We can turn the bright colours on our mobile phones to greyscale easily, and from experience, it tones down our ‘excitement’ while on the device. I use Apple and have an iPhone and this video shows you how. If you have an Android you should be able to find a video easy enough.
Turn them off all applications on your phone. You’ll be astounded at how few apps you’re interested in once they stop popping into your awareness every 10 minutes.
Remove Social Media from Phone
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the three main productivity killers – I know from experience. Get them off your phone and you’ll notice a surge in productivity in whatever your objective. I suggest holding yourself to account for 3 days to being with.
Send Audio Notes Instead of Texting
Quicker, easier and less opportunity for misinterpretation. And it will enable you to stay focussed without so much distraction.
Digital Sovereignty Overview
Tech is a two way street. It is evolving so quickly that our psychology is struggling to keep up, and yet it is bringing unity as it brings us closer together. Many are struggling to make sense of the world around them and are seeking online to satisfy that void.
I don’t see the end in sight with regards to big technological companies harvesting data. If you are not happy with that, then I think the only way out is to live completely off-grid which is near impossible and unpragmatic for the majority.
However, there are apps (above) that are built with a foundation of sovereignty. With most big tech companies vying for your attention, ethical and evolving organisations are producing tools for us to remain productive and sovereign.