So, I’m happy to say that there’s not much out there on me (at least, as far as I can tell), and that’s no mistake. The little bit of information that is circling the Web about me is a result of being a student at Clemson (in particular, having to reluctantly create a Google account to use Gmail and a WordPress account to do…well…this) and doesn’t offer a particularly clear picture of who I am. Do a Google search on me and the only thing you’ll find is a quote of mine that my previous college uses on their Website. In fact, I rarely use the Internet at all except for homework. Part paranoia, part opposition reflex, part ghost envy; my reasons for keeping my digital fingerprint small are many. I could go into depth on each, however, all are usually trumped by one simple reason; I have no interest in the supposed benefits of sacrificing my data. It’s not worth it to me; not even close.
A big reason that big data has gotten so…big, is to support target advertising. That may be nice if your reason for living is consuming the biggest, newest, shiniest, next best thing, but I buy next to nothing, and the products I do buy are usually acquired out of necessity. My purchasing decisions are usually based on practicality and rarely on emotion; especially if that emotion was a result of a well-executed advertising ploy (metacognition can save you money). Being efficiently guided to the thing I want to purchase is not something I’m interested in because that “thing” doesn’t exist.
Then there’s the social networking thing that all the young whippersnappers are in to. No Facebook account, no Twitter account, no Instagram, Reddit, or Pinterest account for me. Nada. Digital cesspools of self-fulfilling nonsense if you ask me. They’re like a low rent tabloid that people form strange addictions to, full of petty competitions of who can say the most cleaver thing, buy the most expensive toy, make the cutest baby, or get the most wasted. And the more people waste their lives with such nonsense, the larger their profile becomes and the larger the potential advantage others will have over them becomes. If I know everything about you, and you know nothing about me, I can make you play right into my hands in a variety of situations. Think of the thief who knows you’re on vacation and away from home because you just had to post that nice vacation picture with the cute comment, the business competitor who knows your next move because you had to update your Facebook “wall” to let everyone know what was going to bring that next big check, or the pharmaceutical company that convinces you that you need an unneeded medication because you made a dramatic blog post about how bad your day was. There are plenty of bad people out there waiting to capitalize on your nonchalant attitude towards your own privacy. Don’t make it easy for them.
So, here’s what Google has on me…
My first and last name, but not my middle name; the time zone I live in; 83 email contacts comprised of the senders from all the unsolicited emails I receive from Clemson; all of those emails plus those emails I’ve sent to my instructors; a chemistry lab report I shared on Google docs and another that was shared with me; and a link to my nearly empty Clemson e-portfolio. Good luck extracting any accurate information about me from that.
The only thing found in Ads on Google were three interest of mine; legal, newspapers, and ironically privacy issues. Everything else is unknown. 🙂