I made a decision a few months ago that I finally managed to complete recently. I didn't want to share anything until it was experienced and it's got to a stage where I feel that not sharing would be an injustice.
The decision was to disconnect from technical attractions that I thought was making my life easier for work, family and in ways befitting the modern era.
I will explain in detail the following overview of the main reasons but not limited to:
- Irreversible time wasting
- Severe privacy issues.
- Delusions that it's productive
- Pushing political agendas
Irreversible time wasting
I start with the most important. There are so many talks and articles on this. I will add one Hadeeth only:
"There are two blessings in which many people incur loss: health and free time." [Bukhari]
‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab رضي الله عنه used to hit his feet with his whip when night came and say to himself: "What did you do today?"
2020 statistics show that an average of 3 hours is spent on social media. That's 20% of the average awake time daily. Social media is not something that one makes time for, it's something one pulls out every second they get a single moment of doing nothing. This is more damaging than anyone would care to accept or realise.
While I personally never used social media platform like Facebook for the purpose it was built for except for maybe a month back in 2012 when Farmville was a craze and students kept sending me invites, I have seen the impact on life from what I observe in others. I've had WhatsApp since I can remember and even though my notifications was completely off and I only saw messages when I opened the app, it was still a distraction when groups were created by friends and some invites to Islamic groups. It's not easy to not take part even when it's good things. But in the end, I realised that not 1 good thing came out of any groups except months were wasted on wishful ideas, thoughts and "inshaAllah's"
Time, therefore is the number 1 reason of this step.
Severe privacy issues & spying
The first response by most people when you mention privacy is "I've got nothing to hide" - Another common response is that "They have billions of users, I'm nothing." On the surface, not only are these valid and 100% correct but the entire purpose of privacy violations and the resulting effects are ignored.
It's put perfectly in the Facebook 2 link below:
- They make money on ads.
- Which means they need you to click on ads.
- Which means they need to know more about you to send you better ads.
- And they need you to spend more time on the site so you click on more ads.
- So they’re motivated to get you addicted to spending time on the platform while collecting as much information as possible about you.
Without realising, you have become victim of the first reason to disconnect which is "time"
Then there's the fact that they can provide all the data via court order if they need to connect you to absolutely anything they wish. Chances are you've click on at least 1 thing of every possible topic out there even if you just skimmed through it. This has lead to unjust issues for some Muslims. The likelihood of this is next to none but the fact the likelihood exists is sufficient to be a privacy issue that you can be convicted without ever committing any crime.
Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, Apple, LinkedIn and similar big tech giants gather so much information on your activity that even by using VPN, new email address and a new phone, it only takes moments to connect you to your original accounts and all your connections to identify you.
The moment you install their app, you've given them access to your world. Did you know that WhatsApp can install secondary apps and also exposed of installing spyware in the background? You can go to Android settings and see that "Install unknown apps" for WhatsApp is on by default. Depending on how it's done, you don't always get an alert that it's installing. Whether or not this is happening anymore, the fact that it can should be enough. This was also done by exploits in the software itself in the past and WhatsApp denied any knowledge of it.
Android OS sends approximately 12mb of usage data back to Google DAILY. To give you an idea of how much information that is, based on an average word length of 5 characters in English, you'd have to type 2.5 million words to make a 12mb file. With an average speed of 30 words per minute typing, it would take you 1,288 hours of continuous typing to make a 12mb file. That's almost 24 hours straight. That is a gigantic amount of data.
Even if your location services are off, it's continuously collecting data in the background. Wifi router mac addresses, signal strengths (this is enough to know your pinpoint location with your GPS off, contacts, email scanning, typing on the keyword using Google's keyboard, sim data, network, signals, incoming messages (not the content but sender, keywords, time, how often), call logs, installed apps, engagement with apps, 3rd party software, purchases, browsing history, data usage, wifi usage, ip info and so much more as diagnosed by many geeks monitoring the activity.
Not only does this drain your battery but also it's a huge violation of privacy. I will post a solution for this also. Apple on the other hand collects from half the amount to 20 times less data than Google but they do collect.
All of this information can be found online but it shouldn't be a surprise they do this.
Some of the links mentioned above WhatsApp
Nuisance & Distraction
This should be self-explanatory. How many times have you reached for the phone daily to read a message that didn't add any value whatsoever to your life? The memes, the random emojis.
Do you remember what you were doing at the time? A single message can divert you from what you're doing to another, then another and then an hour later you'll notice what you were doing and wonder how you got distracted so badly. Believe it or not, I typed this entire article in one single sitting with no phone distractions whatsoever. I've got more done in the last month that I care to admit previously.
Delusions that it's productive
Many including myself said I only use it for work, just to keep in touch, for recipes or whatever presumed valid reason. I only realised after disconnection that this was a delusion.
When I go to a social media web site with a purpose or reaching out to potential clients, customers then it's definitely effective. But to say I'm on the platform and active for that matter because of business in my opinion is a delusion or an excuse. Yes it can be used occasionally for this purpose and there can be benefits but as a reason to actively be involved on the platform engaging like everything depends on it is simply not real.
On WhatsApp there's groups for all sorts of reasons and never (for me at least) has something real come of it. People discuss ideas but that's where it ends. A lot of chit chat and no action. I now use telegram groups for limited usage and switch to professional emails as quickly as possible. It's used as a meeting with a purpose and not as a way to get things done.
I can list every project, plan, idea that's been discussed with me over years and I can confirm that besides 1 or 2, all the rest were a colossal waste of time.
Pushing political agendas
Social media platforms have become very dangerous because not only does it collect data to push the right adverts and groups at you to engage on their platforms as much as possible for the ad revenue but they are all private, politicised and have policies to push political agendas. This is no secret. Twitter staff was admitting on camera that they not only know who you are the second you register an account but they know every status you didn't save (so while typing and deleting, they collect that as well.) An image you uploaded and then decided not to post, they have that as well. He was feeling so proud while admitting these to a hidden camera. They use Fact Checkers that are funded and owned by the same people who implement these policies to silence different opinions. Education is weaponised. Real learning has ended. This is literally the definition of not being free-speech. They allow Islamophobia and genocide groups but de-platform charities who send money to Palestine. They allow hate groups and drawings of our Prophet but de-platform anyone who says that we have a right to choose what is injected in our bodies. There's no open discussion except for those who already agree with the political inclination of the platform. Even if I'm not interested, it's still pushed on me using different techniques including small alerts telling me what's real and what's not. It's created hate and division even amongst family members. This is dangerous and setting back humanity by decades.
Actions I took and what I found to be a good solution to this illness
So what did I do that I feel has freed me from this?
This is my list. It might not suit everyone but I know each one on its own has its benefits.
1) I Deleted Google Chrome from all my devices.
Google Chrome is based on an open source browser Chromium. The browser is then customised by Google with features added and then made available on their platform. This means Google has added their own code to gather even more data. Every site, search and whatever you do will allow them to target whatever they want at you.
2. I installed Brave browser. This browser is based on Chromium open source browser. Brave claims it's 3 times faster than Chrome but I used Chrome a lot and can tell you it's probably even more faster than 3 times. brave.com/ - It has a built in ads and tracker blocker. For example, on muftisays.com topic page there's a "share" button from twitter. That button comes from twitter and that button is enough for twitter to collect data on what exactly you're reading. The button will be removed so if you read this in the future the button will be gone.
There may be more but this lists: ProtonMail, Tutanota, Mailbox.org, Zoho Mail, Posteo, Privatemail, Librem Mail, Mailfence, TorGuard’s Private-Mail, CounterMail
4. BIG ONE - I removed the stock Android on my phone.
I installed Lineage OS. To give you an idea on the difference it made let me explain what is Android. Android is based on AOSP (Android Open Source Project) which as the name suggests is Open Source so there's no hidden surprises in the operating system. Google uses AOSP to customise it as Google Android adding Google Services, Google Play etc. and other system level updates to gather whatever data they want without restrictions. They then have contracts with manufacturers to pre-install Google's Android on their devices which is why you won't see many big name brands with a different Android ROM.
Google's Android is a highly intrusive operating system for the phone. There are other options to have Android and I went with Lineage OS. Before this my phone was giving me 3-8 hours max on a phone that was 4 years old. I thought it's done its time (secondary phone kept because of the data I had on it). I installed Lineage and from the moment it loaded, it asked me for NOTHING. No login, no account, just got on with it to use the phone. The battery lasted 4 days without a single charge and I kept it on. I let it go flat. Then I charged it full and used it normally with calls, browsing and standard usage. It gave me 40-60 hours of battery. I was honestly going to buy a new battery previously when it was totally fine and it was Google's Android that was draining it. I installed almost all the same apps (except for Google apps). This custom ROM is de-googled. There's no Google on it. So to install apps, you can use apkpure web site, amazon play store, F-Droid and other similar apps. I'm now using it quite heavily again and it still lasts me the entire day and by night I have on average 15-40% remaining.
It takes some technical ability to install a custom ROM and it's not available for all phones so what I've been recommending to everyone that when they're looking to upgrade their phone, visit the Download page on the official web site download.lineageos.org/ and check the phone models they have and buy one of those so you can install the custom ROM.
5. The 5th thing I did was checked my WhatsApp for the important contacts only and informed them I'll be on Telegram only and deleted it. Nothing is so important that you feel that kind of emotional connection to an app to leave it installed "just in case". It made no negative difference to my life. For anyone to reach me, there's a phone call, SMS (remember those?), email and good old fashion door bell.
Telegram has more options to use the app how you want. Not the other way around.
6. I deleted or stopped logging into all social media accounts unless I need to moderate or send something for work reasons.
Many people say "How do I know what's going on if I don't use it?"
My question is why does the world need you to know what's going on and what difference are you actually making? There's plenty of bloggers, web sites that post real news. Follow the group of people who share your interests and ideas but limit the interaction. If what you're doing isn't making a difference, then stop.
If anyone wants technical help on any of this, please feel free to reply.