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Escape the Big Tech mouse trap. One VPN at a time.
The reason I pay attention to consumer technology is because it is a honey pot – tempting and irresistible, but ultimately a trap.
And as with every trap, the cheese is free.
Free navigation, free video calls, effortless swipe-dating, unlimited gaming, unrestrained porn – this free-for-all has been going on for decades.
And for those who paused to ask, “how can all this be for free?”, prestigious economists had their “consumer surplus” papers at the ready. The long and short of it was:
Consumer technology is the gift that keeps on giving.
Relieved of all doubt, mankind indulged on the greatest obsession of all times. From physical and emotional attachment to mental addiction and, ultimately, spiritual devotion – those black mirrors (i.e. touchscreens) seduced and bewitched humanity in a matter of years.
And it was all by design.
You see, scientists know exactly what happens when you keep saturating the mesolimbic reward system in mice. In short, the entire world collapses and the only thing that matters is the object that lights up their dopamine centers.
You don’t have to connect too many dots here: that is precisely how consumer tech works – again, by design. Humanity was purposefully lured into a mouse trap. And it wasn’t until April 2020 that this trap eventually snapped shut.
As it turns out, the “consumer surplus” narrative was a lie. There never was a surplus, and certainly not for consumers. It was just a mirage of subsidized conveniences; plastic junk assembled by slave labor in China and dispensed to the unwashed masses at nominal prices they can all afford.
Big Tech was the pied piper of Hamelin.
It seduced innocent and naive humans into thinking their “limited” life needs limitless upgrades. As youths spent more and more of their lives on Instagram, every notification, every ping! and ding! that came out from their digital appendages was felt and craved for as a life upgrade.
It is this spiritual promise, that insidious pact, that compels humanity to this self-sacrifice. Day after day, as they offload more and more of their lives to the digital realm, their awareness of the physical reality evaporates. Their bodies are hypnotized and aloof, no longer there. Just walk into public transport and observe your fellow passengers. The optics speak for themselves.
Not many of us escaped this fraud. I didn’t – not until it was too late. Now I am trying to reclaim my life and, let me tell you, it is not easy.
We are in a symbiotic relationship with consumer technology and it will take decades to create healthier, human-friendly alternatives. In the meantime we need those things to communicate, navigate, transact, and so on.
After years of trial and error, I’ve come up with a simple heuristic.
When I’m not using my smartphone, it is always switched off and out of sight. When I’m doing focused work on my laptop, I try to stay offline.
And for those times when I need to be online, I use a good VPN.
Now, bear with me as I break down a couple of technical terms. This will only take a minute and, believe me, it’s worth it.
For the uninitiated, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have a double purpose:
Security: They encrypt your traffic, which comes in handy when you join public Wi-Fi networks in cafes, hotels, and so on.
Privacy: They change your IP, so that your browsing history cannot be linked to your real identity. This prevents telcos, advertisers, and Big Tech from tracking your online activity.
Okay, but why are we talking about VPNs, all of a sudden?
Most people don’t know this, but VPNs are the last bastion of online freedom.
VPN services are capital-intensive. They rely on a network of servers hosted around the world plus a team of developers, sysadmins, customer service agents, and so on.
With that in mind, riddle me this:
A few weeks ago Google announced their very own VPN, bundled at no extra cost in their paid plans.
More to the point, why would Google throw a spanner into its business model, which presumably relies on adverts?
I’ll tell you why.
For the last couple of decades Google made money from selling online ads. In a few years, however, there won’t be a need for ads. As Yuval Harari points out in 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, “once algorithms choose and buy things for us, the traditional advertising industry will go bust.”
You see, Google and its handlers understand that conventional money is worthless. Just look at their stock market valuations which gain and shed trillions faster than a shitcoin. Big Tech doesn’t care about money anymore. Why? Because their new business model is almost in place, and in that business model our money is useless. But you know what else is useless?
Economic crisis, my ass.
Truth is, there is no need for information workers any longer. Even developers are obsolete. In fact, AI and machine learning can pretty much replace all workers at this point. In China, taxi-drivers are already obsolete, and in the US, cashierless tech is quickly taking over mainstreet stores.
“So what do you do with all those humans?”
Good question, Padawan.
Big Tech, big telcos, the World Economic Forum, UN, and their “global” friends are heavily invested into a future where humans have little to offer other than personal data. In their accounting systems, human value is not measured in dollars but in terrabytes. Things like DALL-E2, Aladdin AI, and Tesla’s self-driving algorithm wouldn’t even exist without trillions of user-generated data points.
As the Economist says, “the world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.”
He who owns the data owns the future.
But there is a snag.
Some of those pesky humans are using VPNs to obscure their personal data.
VPN apps work by changing the IP address of its users to one from an entirely different location or even country. By polluting the data in such a major way VPNs pose an existential threat to the technocrats and their Orwellian wet dreams, which is why they are hellbent on destroying this industry.
In normal settings, it would be easy to squeeze the life out of any small player by means of regulation. Big players employ battalions of lawyers and lobbyists; small businesses don’t. That’s how governments and big corporations collude to kill entrepreneurial freedom.
But VPN companies cannot be bullied in that manner.
Most of them are headquartered in obscure locations well outside the purview of “our democracy”. You can’t sue them because they are not in your jurisdiction and in many cases you don’t even know who they are.
The best VPNs don’t want to know who their users are, either. In some cases they don’t even ask for your name, and you can even pay them anonymously using Monero and Bitcoin. Good VPNs don’t keep any logs either, but even if they did they’d have no real identity to associate them with – that’s the whole point.
VPNs make it difficult for the global slave masters to keep track of their cattle.
No wonder they’ve been trying for years to dissuade users from using those products. They used proxy wars, misinformation, and they even steered technical but naive users to centralized alternatives. Those alternatives are broadly marketed as “privacy” and “free speech” apps. I won’t name them because their trolls are relentless, but you can tell an app is compromised by simply browsing its website. Look for woke illustrations and “revolution” slogans; look for pink and blue haircuts in their team photos; look for non-profit and NGOs in their funding page. It’s not that hard really.
The reason VPNs work so well is because:
The VPN industry is decentralized. It has no single point of failure and leverage, which means it is hard to compromise and control.
Good VPN apps are not free. In other words, their interests are aligned with their customers, not some obscure non-profit, NGO, Google, and so on.
Which brings us back to a few weeks ago when Google announced their VPN product.
On the surface it looks like you are getting a great deal. Not only do you get a VPN but, for the same price, you also get hundreds of gigabytes of storage plus everything else under the Google One package.
Obviously, Big Tech is trying to to undercut and price-out small and independent VPN teams.
Earlier this year, for example, Apple offered their own alternative for just $0.99 / month, plus 50GB of storage. It is only a matter of time before Microsoft, Amazon, and every other Big Tech outfit comes up with a VPN alternative that seemingly does the same for much less – anything to sway cash-strapped consumers away from honest and independent apps.
I mean, just look at their marketing material.
Instead of focusing on privacy, they emphasize on safety and security. As if the real danger is other internet users (“bad hackers”), and not their own data harvesting practices and surveillance machinery. Even when they pay lip service to privacy, they refer to privacy against everyone but themselves.
Don’t fall for it.
If you are looking for a good VPN, make sure:
It is priced fairly. Don’t skimp on the freedom premium.
It accepts cryptocurrencies, ideally Monero or Bitcoin.
It does very little or no logging.
It is open source (FOSS).
It doesn’t use centralized technologies that can be compromised.
Last time I checked, iVPN fulfilled those criteria and NordVPN was not far behind.
Be weary of Big Tech – or anyone – offering to keep you safe and secure. Be weary of those free “privacy” and “anti-censorship” apps.
Find and pay for a good VPN and make sure it is always on. Once you’re done with your task, remember to switch off your device and keep it switched off until you need it again.