Focus, Not Privacy

A thought:

Perhaps what we should be optimizing for in our personal lives is FOCUS, not ‘privacy’.

Nobody cares what porn you watch

My personal privacy is important. Yet, I think in the context of the internet, I think “freedom from distraction” (focus) is actually more important than privacy.

I would say the biggest problem in today’s world is distraction. We got a trillion advertisements in all aspects of our lives, and I think we no longer have the opportunity or the breathing room to actually let our minds go fallow, in order to think.

Freedom from advertisements

My theory:

Currently (and in the future)– it will be about the ‘digital elite’ who are able to live WITHOUT ADVERTISEMENTS vs the ‘digital poor’ who will live a life subsidized by advertising.

All forms of ‘entertainment’ are designed to optimally trap us, suck out our wallets, and gain our eyeball-ear attention. With screens all around us, the ‘eyeball economy’ is strong. Furthermore now with the introduction of the wireless AirPods– the ‘ear economy’ will also explode.

haptic foot collage cindy nguyen

I don’t necessarily think that advertising is ‘evil’ — I just think that it is annoying (especially when you don’t want to be advertised to).

I don’t like it when an algorithm knows too much of my personal preferences

Anaheim, 2019 #cindyproject #fujifilmxf10
Anaheim, 2019 #cindyproject #fujifilmxf10

My biggest critique of modern algorithms are that they are TOO GOOD— they know my personal interests too well.

For example, Google/YouTube knows that I am interested in Kanye West, Steve Jobs, JAY Z, Apple, deadlifting, AI, Tesla, entrepreneurship, and everything of this sort. Thus when it gives me ‘suggested news stories’ or when I am randomly on YouTube, I MUST click the articles or watch the videos. And while the article might have some positive utility to me, the ‘distraction cost’ is tremendous.

Once again– my critique isn’t that algorithms are “evil” or nefarious– they are just plain distracting! Which robs me of my focus and attention— my most valuable asset.

Oakland, 2019 #xiaomi9se
Oakland, 2019 #xiaomi9se

Tools to regain your sanity

Some basic ideas:

  1. Uninstall social media apps from your phone, as well as email. If you really really need to use this platforms, you can always do it from your laptop.
  2. Use ‘‘ to block out internet/wifi access for certain periods of time, if your goal is to focus.
  3. If you are really brave, try to go #nophone for a week, month, or even longer (I went for 1.5+ years without a phone, with great results). Life will be a little less convenient, but your ability to focus (and not get distracted) will go up 100x.
  4. I encourage you to use Safari on MacBook and to install all the ad blockers, YouTube blockers, and other ‘focus’/productivity plugins (StopTheMadness, Facebook News Feed Blocker, Facebook Demetricator, ‘Shut up‘ (turning off online comments)). You can also install ad blockers on your Samsung web browser, Safari for mobile, or you can use the free ‘VIA‘ browser available in the Android store. If you have a Windows or other laptop, try using the Brave browser to have fewer distractions. I encourage you to uninstall Chrome– the ultimate distraction tool.
My Safari extensions
My Safari extensions

Conclusion: Value your focus above everything else


Ultimately, this is all your personal preference. For myself, I prize my focus and attention above convenience, money, fame, and power. I will thus optimize my own life this way. But ultimately however you decide to optimize your own lifestyle is up to you; the question is:

What are you willing to sacrifice in order to get it?