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Are we living in a dystopia?
There are some that claim that the advent of technology has led us to become dependent on it, technological addicts that more firmly have their foot in digital spaces than the so-called “real world.” The fact that these spaces, created by tools that were meant to help our lives run more efficiently, have since become capitalistic billboards for corporations willing to pay whatever’s necessary to get more eyes on their products, probably doesn’t help. Regardless of what the naysayers might believe, however, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a world that runs on technology: it just requires most of us to adapt to new modes of behavior and thought, ones that will allow us to do and be more than we ever were beforehand.
However, the incursion of third parties on our digital spaces has cultivated a digital culture based around marketing: marketing ourselves, marketing corporate products, and an overarching focus on getting as many eyes on our content as possible. This culture is not only unhealthy on a personal, individual level, but encourages corporations to continue invading our spaces and even pay to limit our access to other services.
With politicians like Ajit Pai firmly in the pocket of paying corporations, net neutrality regulations, which are supposed to put limits on outside incursions on our internet, have been rolled back, and the rules have been bent in favor of businesses willing to pay a premium to put restrictions on our service. Internet service providers can now throttle without consequence, companies produce devices that link directly (and only) to their content, and corporations track our activity and collect our data without our know-how.
The predominant question for consumers of every kind is this: how to get control back? How can we establish spaces that are our own. to get the most out of our technology as intended and spit in the face of those who want to control us?
Set Your Devices Free
Jailbreaking your devices may prove one easy way to remove corporate restrictions on how you use your tech. Devices like the Amazon Firestick have an inherent bent towards pushing their parent company’s products, and come with hundreds of off-the-books restrictions that limit your ability to access competitors’ content and free content alike. Jailbreaking, while it may sound sketchy, is just the removal of unwanted manufacturer restrictions to make it easier for your device to work with software or programs designed by a third party; one of the most commonly jailbroken devices is the iPhone, which gets jailbroken so their users can install Android apps. While certainly not for everyone, as jailbreaking your device does come with a significant amount of risk (not the least removing your security settings), it can be a good way to get more out of tech you already own.
Purchase a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
There’s a reason ads for these are going around YouTube, as VPNs represent an easy way to avoid the problem of ISP throttling and make it difficult for companies to track your activity online. While not a hundred percent effective security-wise (as regardless of what others say, it’s no substitute for antivirus software or cybersecurity best practices), VPNs run your activity through an encrypted channel, making it impossible for your ISP to detect if you’re using a service that didn’t pay their premium and slow your service down.
Join A Different Network
Usenet is actually a network that precedes the internet, and although few are aware that it is still active today, its become a sprawling network packed with vibrant communities, a massive database of audio and visual content created and shared by users. Because it has been labeled as largely obsolete, there’s no need to worry about corporate incursions on your space, and the communities on Usenet are entirely user-created and moderated. All you need to access the network is a viable newsreader, or a browser tailored to Usenet, and an appropriate plan or bundle that will ensure you get the most out of your Usenet experience.
Make Your Choice: Control of Your Internet Access
Corporations want to play a game with you, and the results could be disastrous. Millions of Americans are looking for ways to mitigate corporate incursions on their lives and their internet access, trying some or all of the methods above. Don’t be afraid to experiment with a few others as well, as the alternative could mean submitting to the dystopian environment the net has become.