Bye Instagram, Hi Privacy – Why I’m Quitting Now

Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.

Edward Snowden

My Realisation

After 4 years of loyally using Instagram for my poetry and photography, I’m glad to have realised the truth. Evidently, It did take me quite some time to realise this, but hey – better late than never.

Back in 2018, I have decided to leave Facebook. This was after the Cambridge Analytics scandal exposing the priorities of Mark Zuckerberg and his consorts.

Facebook sold millions of user profiles worth of data to CA for nefarious reasons. However, the tech behemoth claims to be oh-so-invested into user privacy.

Always the User’s Fault

Privacy by design seems to be unknown to Facebook, and the users must change settings themselves, lest their data is at risk. Quite cheeky for one of the biggest social networks to make such a claim, right?

Now, although this all was irritating enough already, a recent study by cloud storage firm pCloud has found that behind Facebook, Instagram is the most invasive mobile app when it comes to user data.

There is Another Way

I don’t know about you, but I like to be in control of my data. Apps that are under the guise of being “free” are increasingly turning us into the currency.

This isn’t to say that free apps cannot be truly free. It all ultimately comes down to the core design philosophy held by these apps.

One such example is the app Poetizer. Designed intently to provide a creative space for writers in mind, without the need to sell away your personal data, their core philosophy in itself is what keeps this app data-friendly. You can find my Poetizer account here.

A lack of alternatives is a common excuse why people let data harvesters misuse their data. However, reality is different: A quick Google search for “Privacy alternative to XYZ” reveals a plethora of alternatives for any social network.

Then there is Awesome Privacy. It is a great hub for privacy-respecting social network alternatives.

The Downside to Data Privacy

Admittedly, there are far less users on privacy-respecting social networks as compared to “big social media”. This results in the former group of users separating from the latter.

Of course, we all want to stay in touch with our friends and family. This is why outright moving to a more private social network might not always be a viable option.

Consider Alternative Clients

Facebook harvests your data through the Facebook app. The Instagram app does the same through its own app. Some social networks also display ads on the web when logged in, such as the Facebook Audience Network. It is a good idea to completely leave such networks in the past if you’re concerned for your data.

We turn to alternative clients to help us solve the downsides of data-privacy. One example is Barinsta, the Instagram app reimagined with privacy in mind. Or Friendly, which gives access to Facebook without the data-kraken part.

In Conclusion

It takes a collective effort to campaign for more data-privacy. For now, we can only change the way we access our favourite social networks, or leave them behind outright.

However, with enough user pressure we could see positive change a few years down the line.

What Living for 1 Week Without Money in London Taught Me

London is known as one of the most expensive cities in the world. Many might think of glitzy buildings and skyscrapers, but reality is different! Decrepit buildings all around New Cross, the borough I now proudly call my 2nd home. Expectation is high-street shops everywhere, reality is an interconnected web of more developed districts such as Westminster, and less developed ones, like Lewisham.

The difference is quite a striking one indeed!

However, even living in the seemingly “less expensive” boroughs in London requires you to have a substantial amount of cash at your disposal… And trust me, far more than you’d ever spend in Berlin, where I’m from, for sure!

So now, to the story how I even ended up without money in this city! My old job at Pret a toll on my health, so I had to call it quits. And such, I made the mistake of quitting before I even had a job in the first place – and still continuing with my spending habits as if I was still well employed and earning!

Luckily, my family came to my rescue and gave me that all-needed cash injection. Here are my take-aways so the same doesn’t happen to you:

Stock up on the food

As a student, you don’t have time to do your shopping daily… Between assignments and social life, you already are so busy looking for a part-time job! Daily shopping sprees will become a particularly bad habit once you find that coveted job and have even less time on your hands! Furthermore, buying in bulk not only saves time, but money as well!

Look into meal-prep to make your meals both, healthy and not that time-consuming. Your body will thank you, and your friends too, because you have more time for them. Your grades will go up since you can focus more on your assignments, and most thankful of all: Your wallet.

Cut out the daily going out

Now, I am the first to advocate having a night out getting wasted with your friends to Jägerbombs whilst listening to blackbear at a trendy venue every now and then. Still, I do realise that usually, blowing cash comes with blowing your worries away! My love-hate relationship with partying has taken a radical shift once I’ve realised where my money actually went… Spending 100 pounds on a night out could get you comfortably through 10 days as a student! So why pick instant gratification over delayed gratification?

Even science agrees that delayed gratification > instant gratification!

So you go out partying and reach the peak “want” point, every day, until you reach that crucial tipping point wherein it has a negative impact on your life – once you’ve blown all your cash on partying, what do you have left to blow on your wellbeing?

Don’t be ashamed to ask for help

If you’re like me, then you know the guilt which comes over you once you have to utter the words “I have no money” to your parents. Well, in this world, it’s either “get rich or die [crying yourself to hunger and thirst]”. You might not want to bother your parents, but think of it this way: You’re a student. You’re learning the art of dealing with your own finances. You’ve tried, you’ve hit a dead end, you get back up and try again… And helping you get back up, that’s the job of your parents!

University time might bring you independence, but in actuality, see it as adult life on trial mode: You get to explore the outcomes of different choices that you make. You get to find your own self. You will, inevitably, end up in the red one day or another… Then you’ll find the courage to tell your parents the truth, to show them that you’ve learned: And that will make them proud.

In a nutshell:

Prepare, prioritise, persevere. The 3 Ps of personal finance. Stick to them, and you’ll avoid the dreaded red zone with ease!

When Self-Worth Becomes Unselfish

Comparing ourselves to others is a very human thing. We tend to go to desperate measures just to outperform each other, and become better than the people we’re next to.

Be it eating properly, going to the gym, landing an amazing job or taking up interesting hobbies – let me tell you this: You might be in a position wherein none of those things matter.

“Alex”, you’re probably saying, “but aren’t all those things necessary to become the best version of yourself? To live a better life? And well, the answer is probably so…

But would you really want to become a better person if that meant forfeiting your very own interests?

Why go to the gym, if your only goal is to impress others, and not to live longer and sustain your health? Impressions are transient.

Why eat healthy, if it’s merely to look better, and not to feel more alive and well? Looks fade.

Why land a better job, if you only do this to buy people, and not with a long-term goal in mind? Money runs out, and sellouts fade away with it.

Why take up interesting hobbies if it is all for the sake of attractiveness, and not for enriching your life? Anything that is fake falls apart eventually, and attractiveness will crumble with that façade.

Adding to your self-worth should be process that benefits you. If you improve yourself just for others, eventually, you will end up regretting that you didn’t live life on your terms.

You will find that you’ve lived life for others, and not with them. You will find dependence, instead of interdependence. You will stagnation, instead of growth.

Don’t change yourself, just to end up regretting it.

Don’t let self-worth become unselfish.

Stay ever-growing, stay selfish.

On Hope, Promises and Foolishness

Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.

Joyce Brothers

To say that I do not regret having broken up with such an amazing girl as Mary would be an understatement.

Heck, she was perfect in so many ways – yet out of reach. I couldn’t keep loving a fantasy of being together. I wanted her… now.

Long-distance was way too difficult for me to handle, and as such, I was the one to falter. Little did I know that soon enough, I was to fall in love with yet another fantasy, but one that would hurt me even more.

She literally seemed like a perfect match for me, mirroring my very thoughts. She seemed to possess everything I would ever want in a girl.

Every thought.

Every interest.

Every emotion.

Perfectly aligned with mine.

It was foolish to think that I was in love with her – in actuality, it was my very self, acted out by her. She studied me very carefully and diligently, figuring out every single little detail about me.

She made me believe that this person was her… but in reality, she was just playing. Acting it all out. Pretending to be a perfect copy of me, making me believe that this twisted mirror image was indeed my soulmate.

The mask she was wearing was perfectly designed to fool me. I saw myself in it. It could well have been me. I fell for it – hook, line and sinker.

Once reeled in, the manipulation began – one moment she would say that she is unable to be in a relationship with me, and that we should just be friends, knowingly breaking my heart.

Next morning: “I’m sorry.”

This ever-perpetuating cycle having an emotional toll on me and making my head dizzy – where are we heading?

Only she knew exactly where this was supposed to head – nowhere.

I fell for a mirror held up to me by a narcissist seeking to fulfil her desire to mess about with the minds of others.

It was all just a game to her…

Once called out, she suddenly became apathetic to anything I was saying, as if a switch was flipped.

From my perfect soulmate to an empty being, only thriving of acting out the part of others for her own, twisted mind games.

That’s when her responses shrank shorter and shorter, as we grew further apart.

Finally, I told her what’s on my mind. I don’t date manipulators. I don’t need false hope and lies in my life.

I’m glad to have taken off that mask that was supposed to be me off of her and to have turned it into dust.

I’m glad to have shattered this negativity-tinted mirror.

I’m glad to have moved on to a life of true happiness and freedom, coming from my very self.

She promised to be my perfect soulmate and to take things seriously – instead, all I’ve gotten from her was a mirror held up to me, making me fall in love with myself.

A narcissist’s mind games to turn me into a narcissist as well.

That’s why I believe promises of love no more, they can be used as a tool to reel you in – and then to destroy you.

Most importantly, I found out that I don’t need a mirror to truly make me happy.

All I need is myself.