Why change the digital routine, how to start changing it, is it worth it?
On a daily basis, the average user is influenced by the digital content they consume, but even more importantly, by how they consume it. News, opinions, discussions, entertainment: everything is presented in different ways over the Internet and yet it could be said that many user's online experience is globalized. The assumed speech behind this dynamic is the "ease" of use of some platforms that dictate the rhythm of the network. It is taken for granted (because in fact, it is often repeated in their slogans) that what we use is the easy option, so that there must be, lost among the infinite options of the Internet, other more complicated options. More complicated emails, more complicated social networks, complex operating systems... Why look for options that aren't the "easy" ones? This assumption has come down to us without any criticism, just as anyone who wants to look up the birth date of their favorite actor is supposed to Google it, or even ask out loud on their phone. Is it true that what we use on our computers and cell phones are the easy options?
After several breaches of the law by digital giants (GAFAM: Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft) in several countries, it was also widely assumed that the level of privacy or, in general, the respect of user's rights over their digital information is questionable. However, this hasn't stopped its "ease-of-use" speech from being unquestionable for most users. A closed-door visit to an Amazon distribution center in Spain greets visitors with a large sign that says "Work hard. Have fun." and inside, everyone is very happy to work there. At least that's what the guide tells you several times during the visit, although several workers pack lots of bags and boxes standing up and constantly run through the corridors every time, you don't speak to anyone else. Google's spirit is similar, colors, designs, "good vibes", even though they have had several problems with their workers proposing to create unions at their US headquarters. Why question any of this? They are the "simple" option, as opposed to the complicated and unknown option.
The digital services and solutions presented by several of these companies excuse most of their opaque problems in caring for users in their effort to design what's fast, easy and cheap. Within this care, there is no space for the care of minorities that do not conform to their standards (sometimes their own workers, for example), there is no space for the construction of self-care (everything has to go through its panoptic filter where all user information must be transparent to the eyes of the system, but its code and policies are opaque), there is no room for participation and voting on future changes. They present themselves, however, as an option committed to your life, your comfort and your well-being. His paternalism is touted as a virtue, but it is not transparent; it relies entirely on the blind trust of users, something that can only be achieved with such "feel-good" marketing, especially after the various legal problems with its mishandling of data and mistreatment of workers.
Looking outside the window of alternatives is dizzying. How could it not be? We are constantly told that the alternative is complicated, time-consuming, technically demanding, unsafe, and a host of other complications. Furthermore, there is constant pressure that the adoption of an alternative to one service forces you to do it with every other service, an absolute blood contract. These are all myths that have spread both among common users and in some communities that are organized around the development of alternative services. Neither the alternative to GAFAM is complicated by definition, nor does the change in routine have to be absolute to be legitimate and coherent. Unfortunately, in a context where money gives visibility, alternatives remain hidden, waiting for the curious and the communities to give them a chance.