Sitting is the new smoking. So they say. Because sitting too much and not enough exercise is unhealthy. Say the data. And nobody smokes anymore today, almost nobody. Except for a few incorrigible ones and those who now have these new-fangled vaporizers. And yes, the comparison is a little misleading, because you cannot always choose the sitting position. After all, not every office offers standing desks for working.
However, it is said that data is the new gold. And the many services we use today without paying for them are not actually free. We pay with our data. And in fact, we are not the customers, but the product. The customers are the advertisers who use our data for advertising purposes. Or other companies that who knows what to do with our data. The funny thing is: We are somewhere subconsciously aware of that. And actually, it doesn’t really matter, because these services have been a great success and earn a lot of money with their business model.
This is not even about the data that we enter directly. At least as interesting are the meta-data, i.e. those that are collected almost incidentally and often not comprehensibly for us. That, for example, the new mobility service providers such as car sharing companies, bicycle rental companies and Uber movement profiles create, seems clear to everyone, even if the meaning behind it is not open to everyone. But even that hardly upsets anyone.
The data scandals should come as no surprise
Only sometimes some reports startle us. Like recently, for example, the “scandal” surrounding Cambridge Analytica. Or the study by the University of Nuremberg, which could only create online profiles of strangers based on the online status of WhatsApp available to everyone. Sure, you might say that this is a nice game, but who cares? For example, health insurance companies that see that you do not get enough sleep and then increase your fees. Or the next employer who is wondering whether he should really hire the applicant if he is online all night and therefore perhaps not as efficient during the day.
This is where the dilemma begins for the individual: What is the consequence? Switch to a better messenger, like Signal or Threema? Where you are all alone because your circle of friends dismisses you as a “nerd” or a “tin foil hat”? Or refrain completely from being excluded from current communication with the result? In addition, you would have to shut down the entire smartphone, because Android and iOS already send a lot of metadata to their creators by default. VPNs don’t even help, because the data is collected on the device itself. And even with a “dumb-phone” the mobile phone provider gets enough connection and movement data, which certainly allow some interesting conclusions. So right back into the cave, communication by smoke signal and say goodbye to modern life with all its amenities? Probably no alternative either.
Can there be a solution?
Of course, I have to be careful with my data and ask myself with every app: Why does it need this authorization? Does a flashlight app really need to access my location? But sometimes this is exactly what I want.
And so, sitting is not the new smoking for me, but the whole use of social media / messenger / internet stuff. Although I know I am revealing a lot of data with it, I do it anyway because it is fun and has a benefit for me. Exactly this logic must have smokers also (as a non-smoker for me difficult to understand): Although I know that smoking is harmful to my health, I consciously choose it because I enjoy it, enjoy it and want to have the effect. The only difference is that I think smoking is easier to quit.