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Friday Freedom Question: “Embracing a post-digital ethos”

“Embrace a post-digital ethos.” I borrowed that phrase from a poster at Claire’s Cabal.

The phrase came up in the midst of a wistful discussion about the need to create just enough of an online profile to reassure potential employers while also scrubbing (or avoiding in the first place) a profile that surrenders too much privacy. Participants lamented the increasing need to create a sanitized public facade. One said that while leaving the ‘Net was out of the question, backing away from ‘Net life was imperative.

We’ve talked about this before. Many of us are in love with — married to — the ‘Net while at the same time appalled by its increasing problems: the ever-more-devious snoopery, the control by a few arrogant billionaires and mega-corps, the mob mentality and increasing intolerance of dissent from some PC norm, the fact that the most casual remark goes on that infamous “permanent record” our high school counselors could only imagine.

Or if we don’t love our online lives, we perceive that we can’t disengage from them. We have too many ties: work, banking, family contacts, gaming, shopping, whatever.

For most of us, leaving the ‘Net is unthinkable. Yet many of us, I suspect, cherish a desire to separate ourselves from the online world.

So today’s Friday Freedom Question is: What part of your life that’s now lived online would you most like to make “post-digital”?

If there’s no part of your current cyberlife that you’d like to take offline, why not? And how do you adjust to the ‘Net’s increasing intrusions?


  1. rochester_veteran
    rochester_veteran August 11, 2017 2:37 am

    Claire, I weighed in on the discussion about this and advised against political posts and not posting about other controversial subjects and to keep things light and innocuous on social media, specifically on Facebook. I scrubbed my FB timeline of all of such postings, but although they’re not seen anymore, FB still has those posts on file and I’m reminded of them by the “On this day in 2013, you posted such and such” notifications of posts that I specifically deleted, so FB keeps things forever. You don’t want to leave such information about yourself in the hands of a flaming progressive dweeb such as Zuckerberg and I wish I hadn’t. I left FB a few days after my wife’s funeral, bidding my friends adieu and thanking them for their support. I may or may not return.

  2. Pat
    Pat August 11, 2017 6:23 am

    “What part of your life that’s now lived online would you most like to make “post-digital”?”

    Everything except necessary (emergency) email and contact with blog/cabal, both of which have a decent level of security – I hope.
    And at some point, I may get off that, and just live with an old-fashioned land line and mail call. But then I wasn’t born in the digital age.

    I don’t do online business (such as banking & utilities) at all; and only search to buy items I need, then buy deliberately by mail from smaller companies that give decent service and those I trust. Have been pulling away fast from Amazon, and only use it for items I can’t find anywhere else. If I lived in a town that had more stores, I would use them all and forget all online shopping.

  3. MJR
    MJR August 11, 2017 6:55 am

    Sadly once you have gone digital there really isn’t any going back. The stuff you put out there stays out there in some form or another. The secret is to judge what you put on line by the criteria that if you don’t want to see it as a headline on the world news then don’t put it on line. This is a practice that I have been doing for years. Yes there are a few very minor things out there from when I began being online but I don’t worry about those days and I will not draw attention to them..

  4. david
    david August 11, 2017 8:13 am

    I have friends with whom I share political (events and theory) emails along with comments. Some of these friends are in other states, others who are close enough to visit, are normally so busy that we seldom see each other anyway. I would prefer to be able to meet them over coffee or beers to discuss ‘current events’ – face to face. The idea of ‘facebook to facebook’ is just stupid.

  5. free.and.true
    free.and.true August 11, 2017 8:15 am

    Hey, cool, Claire read that forum post of mine about looking toward a post-digital way of living!

    If I might expound just a bit, my idea in using that phrase was to look at things broadly: more than going offline, that is — also offscreen, beyond electronics in general. Call it a bent toward simplicity, call it a rebellion against the tyranny of technology, call it what you like.

    For me, the foundational urge or yearning is toward both simplicity and authenticity — in the sense of working with tangible, tried-and-true, non-artificial methods and materials. I want to be an artisan rather than a technician.

    But a major rationale for following that urging is the myriad threats attached to a heavy entanglement with the digital monster: loss of privacy, loss of real skills, etc. So in that sense, yes, there’s rebellion involved.

    Like all of us here discussing these topics online, I don’t dismiss technology… even the Amish don’t do that utterly. But like them, I seek to weigh any “improvements” carefully, with a complete willingness to eschew such potential entanglements, if I decide that adopting (or adapting to) some new technological wonder will undermine the quality of life that matters to me.

    Claire, didn’t you blog once about wabi-sabi? (see, for instance, That concept probably explains what I mean better than I can. Both wabi-sabi and modernism have value — but I find that only the latter carries the danger of potential tyranny, even if merely in an intellectual sense.

  6. Comrade X
    Comrade X August 11, 2017 8:29 am

    I don’t do Facebook (no one in my household does).

    I don’t have a smart phone but my mate does.

    I do do Amazon only to help a friend.

    I have a Roku.

    The one thing I would like to get rid of is that %#@*&^ LinkedIn account, an important client requested my present so I am there but with absolutely no background, photo or anything else information so I can say barely there.

    Had a homeland security Blackhawk fly over the other day and I gave it a salute which got me a second look which most like got me online in ways I don’t want to imagine but I’m stupid and most likely will do it again, oh well.

  7. Joel
    Joel August 11, 2017 8:36 am

    I avoided the whole “social media” thing – I’ve never made a single post on Facebook or Myspace or Linkedin or Twitter and can’t imagine ever wanting to do so. Of course I’m pretty much out of the job market, so developing a careful persona as an online resume’ isn’t necessary.

    But then just to be completely inconsistent I’ve been blogging all sorts of personal stuff for nine years, so that’s out there. Occasionally the purist in me regrets having started that, because I’m supposed to be this far-gone privacy fanatic. Blogging all about it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. But it’s pretty much an inextricable part of the business model now, so that’s that.

    And of course communication tech has come to be all about the internet and the cell network. Except for rare face-to-face conversations with half a dozen neighbors all my communications are on systems that I just take for granted are less secure than paper cups and string.

    It’s the world we live in. You live in a fishbowl, so it should become an instinct that the world never gets a glimpse of anything it shouldn’t see. Becuase if you get caught sending weiner pictures to little girls from your cell phone, it’s still gonna be nobody’s fault but yours when your political career comes to a sudden halt.

  8. jed
    jed August 11, 2017 8:55 am

    My online presence is pretty small, compared to most people I know. I wouldn’t give up e-mail, though I wish various correspondents would move away from the big providers. But in couple areas, yeah.

    There are quite a few people whom I maintain contact with only online. It’d be great to spend more (or any at all) time with them in person. Geography plays a role here, in some cases, so the online thing is a double-edged sword, because otherwise, I’d have little to no contact at all.

    I buy many things online these days. I mostly prefer meatspace shopping, though in order to return to more of that, the physical world would have to change. There is, for example, only one physical store where I live where I can walk in and buy electronic components, and that store is aimed at the kit/maker market, so the selection doesn’t match the sort of stuff I’m usually buying. Some things simply aren’t available in a local store. The demise of brick’n’mortar retail is also a double-edged sword. I have saved a lot of money buying online.

  9. larryarnold
    larryarnold August 11, 2017 9:45 am

    As a firearm instructor/novel author I pretty much have to have a website. No facebook. Gotta Skype grandkids. Other than that, email and primitive flipphone.
    (Takes time out to defeat the Zornos in a round of Emily Grace, a little first-person shooter installed on my hard drive.) I sure do miss Minefield.
    Buy locally, but like others our small town doesn’t have stores for anything the least bit exotic. Like when we had to replace a sewing machine recently. OTOH a Big City is an hour or so down the Interstate. A couple of graphic novel/written fiction sites I follow, the Cabal (not often enough), Reason and here. A handful of gun-related sites. When the Legislature is in heat, tracking bills on their website.

    So, too much, most of it necessary.

  10. Claire
    Claire August 11, 2017 10:24 am

    Hey, cool, Claire read that forum post of mine about looking toward a post-digital way of living!

    If I might expound just a bit, my idea in using that phrase was to look at things broadly: more than going offline, that is — also offscreen, beyond electronics in general. Call it a bent toward simplicity, call it a rebellion against the tyranny of technology, call it what you like.

    I’m glad you stepped in to elaborate, free.and.true. I didn’t want to reveal much of the Cabal discussion, but you struck the crux of the matter far better than I did with your explanation.

    I don’t remember blogging about wabi-sabi (good link, thank you), but I’ve blogged about withdrawal as a spiritual act.

    When I picked up your phrase “embrace a post-digital ethos,” I wasn’t just thinking about technical changes or piecemeal lifestyle changes (however valuable they may be). I was thinking about the act of taking our own lives back, of living deliberately as Thoreau put it. You expressed that better than I did.

  11. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty August 11, 2017 1:33 pm

    I wasn’t going to comment on this post, but just had a very interesting experience. The county occasionally sends out telephone “alerts” of one kind or another, often weather related. They have always come via the land line phone until now. Just received an “emergency alert” on my “burner” cell phone – a weird ring and the buzz of vibration – I did not set it to either one! I didn’t “answer” it, just let it go to message – which I never read. Would probably cost me air time.

    You see, I’ve only given this number to three people – who know not to call me on it, but every telemarketer in the world seems to have it – so I never answer it. Now the county has the number? I called the sheriff’s office to ask about it, and the dispatcher said the message went out to anyone with in cell phone in range of the nearest tower!

    I told her I wasn’t interested in getting these calls on my land line, let alone on the cell I keep ONLY to call out on in an emergency. She got excited and said it WAS an “emergency” – severe weather coming in. I had to laugh, and told her I’d lived most of 70 years with sufficient warning by looking out the windows. She was a bit miffed, but agreed to take my numbers off the automatic caller thing.

    They have called sometimes in the middle of the night (I go to bed early), and I sure don’t appreciate it. We shall see. (And I see no sign of “severe weather” either, by the way.)

    But if I get another one of these fool calls, someone is going to get the rough edge of my tongue, full blast.

  12. free.and.true
    free.and.true August 12, 2017 5:35 pm

    “I was thinking about the act of taking our own lives back, of living deliberately as Thoreau put it.”

    Yep… that’s really the heart of the matter, isn’t it? And nowadays, there’s just so damned much we have to deliberate about if we choose to remain involved with the wider world.

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