Reducing Your Data Footprint
It’s initially really not easy, but there are multiple ways of reducing your data footprint. Like quitting any habit—and make no mistake, social media does quickly become a habit— it takes a concentrated effort to lower use and focus your attention on other things. According to multiple studies and observations, the average person spends about two hours per day on social media. That’s the total of all accounts per day. That’s 14 hours per week spent on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, etc. For teens, that amount may be double. All of this information is being gathered, stored, sold, and used by data brokers and others. Your social media habits are of great interest to a great many people and worth a lot of money. But many people are sick of social media running their lives and distracting them to the point of posting life instead of living it.
All our posting activity leads to our data being all over the internet. People often find out through an internet search that their personal information is posted in many places. Internet removal companies are gaining in popularity in response to this avalanche of personal data being spread. You can have a company remove your name from the internet and remove your address from the internet. This helps lower your footprint that gets created from the overuse of social media and from data brokers selling your personal information.
Social media for many years became a convenient method of communication with friends, family, and acquaintances. Instead of mailing pictures or sending them via email, we could post images of our kids or fun times out with friends. We could find out what was up with someone we haven’t heard from in a while instead of calling them or visiting them. For well over a decade, social media interaction became a way of life. However, as with many novelties, people are starting to realize that there are uncomfortable consequences to having a wide, and far-reaching digital footprint. Many are outraged over finding out that every social media moment has been turned into big data to be bought, sold and used. Our data is even being used to make decisions about our insurance rates, creditworthiness and trustworthiness. People who steal, manipulate, and sell our data for profit without telling us are making decisions about our trustworthiness based on the flippant and often silly things we post online The irony is real.
With the Facebook craze in decline and other forms of social media becoming less interesting there is a natural trend for individuals to begin lowering their digital footprints. Social media is similar to our plastic consumption. We overused plastic because it was convenient and everybody was doing it. But like the plastic craze that has led us to an ocean literally full of pollution and debris, we are swimming in a social climate full of inaccuracies and verbal manipulations. We rarely know what’s true or not true about people because we rarely speak with them directly. We rely on third parties to give us information.
We all know what happens when we play the “telephone” game. If you’ve never tried it, you should. The telephone game goes like this: Sit in a circle with a group of people, write down (in private) a funny “secret” about the last person in the circle. Then whisper the secret to the person sitting directly to your left. That person then whispers the “secret” the next person, and so on. When it gets to the last person, he or she should say the secret about them aloud and compare it to the written down secret. Ninety-five percent of the time the final outcome will be so different from the initial idea that everyone is stunned and laughs. But this is how social media communication works also. We rarely post how we are really feeling online, we post generalizations. People repost or form their own opinions about what we have posted. By the time you hear what’s going on with people, the truth has been changed by personal opinion so many times that it doesn’t resemble the truth in any way. It changes even more drastically if the person doing the telling has an ulterior motive for altering the truth to their version of it. The best way to reduce your data footprint and connect with people is to cut your social media use down by half every week. If you can’t quit completely, then set a limit on how much time you’ll spend online. Call people directly and talk to them directly instead of posting and texting or getting your information about them via third or second-hand telling’s. After a while, you might find that your former favorite is annoying and redundant, repeating things that were said five years ago that were wrong then, and are still wrong now. You may just end up hearing more truth and less faulty filler.