I tried to quit Google – and failed

You’ve probably heard that Google is evil. They’re tracking your every move online – even when you’re not directly using their products – and they’re selling your data (and the data of visitors to your website) and making massive amounts of money off it.

Soon, they will amass so much power from the data they have and their user base, that they’ll most likely be more powerful that any country’s government. That has some scary implications for our future.

But if you’re thinking about quitting Google products because of that, think again. It’s way harder than you’d imagine.

A year ago, I decided to try it myself.

First I tried to get rid of my GMail accounts. I moved all my GMail archives to a private email server and set up Spark on my devices. But there was a problem. I’ve had my GMail address since 2011, and most of my friends, clients and online services I had accounts on still had it listed.

Even if I contacted all the folks I could track and let them know, and log into every service I could remember to change it, there would still be some that slipped through the cracks. And since I didn’t want to take that chance and miss something important, I had no choice but to forward all my emails from GMail to my new email. Thus rendering the new email pointless, because Google still had access to my data passing through their servers.

And even if I managed to do all that, it still wouldn’t get me out of the GMail ecosystem entirely. Because whenever I send an email to anyone with a GMail, best believe Google is tracking that too.

I met a similar struggle with everything else.

I ditched Google Chrome for Brave, because it’s built on Chromium, so I could still use my favourite extensions, and I swapped out Google Search for DuckDuckGo. But I still had to log into my Google account to watch YouTube, and I end up using Google Search every now and then because their results are simply more robust than the alternatives.

I tried ditching Google Calendar for a calendar on Notion – but all my clients use Google Calendar to schedule meetings with me, and I need to use it to book meetings with them. I could switch to iCal – but I use an Android phone so I wouldn’t be able to view it on the go.

Speaking of Android phones – that’s the big one. I own a Macbook because it serves me better for work, but I’m not about to spend the same amount of money on a phone. And even if that wasn’t a factor, I genuinely prefer the Android experience over iPhones. Putting myself through switching just doesn’t seem fair.

There is no equivalent to Google Maps, especially in Jamaica. I couldn’t live with Google Translate or Google Flights for travel. And what would life really be like without YouTube?

To paraphrase, a popular Jamaica saying…

Every weh yuh tun, Google jook yuh.

(Everywhere you go, Google pricks you.)

Google is ubiquitous. It is Big Brother. The only way for us to get it out of our lives, is if the majority of users decide to do it collectively. And since it’s free, well-designed and already engrained our daily workflows, that’s highly unlikely.

So no matter how concious you are, it seems you won’t be able to get rid of Google altogether. But for your own privacy’s sake, you should at least try.

PS. I’m working on a follow up to this post on services you can try if you’re interested in minimizing your dependency on Google. Stay tuned.

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