September 4, 2017•448 words
Let's admit, shall we, that freedom has to have its own space.
I've spent about the last decade of my life developing tools for note taking and file management, the most important of which is an encrypted note-taking app. And when I talk to others about how their lives changed once they knew their thoughts and words were private, the response is always the same: "I feel free," is what I hear. They talk about the subtle, but powerful, difference privacy brings you. You become accustomed to the luxury of knowing what you say will never be repeated.
Those who haven't tried the private online life ask me what it's like. Well here you go:
Imagine you were in a room with 50 people. All around you, in every direction, are people breathing in the same circulated air as you. It's crowded. The environment dramatically changes your thoughts. You are distracted. You are influenced by what you hear. You don't have the same thoughts you have as if you were alone.
Now imagine that every thing you said in that room had a 1% chance of being heard by someone else. Life changes. Suddenly you worry what you said. What you might say. You are a whole different person. You become a subdued version of yourself, limited in your creativity and oomph.
Internet living is about being in a room with 50 million people. We are not ourselves there. We have to be much more cautious about ourselves. We adapt to wherever we are. And ourselves multiply. We are a hundred different people, depending on where we find ourselves on the world web that day. I know that when I speak with friends on Slack, or write a note on Evernote or Google Docs, there is an ever-present 1% chance that what I am typing will one day be seen by someone else. And with this thought lingering in the back of my mind at all times, I do not write like I would write in a private journal. I write as if an audience were present. I pause between every few sentences to look both ways.
I write as if to say, "If this got out, how would it make me look? What would others think of me?" And in that way, my writing loses its most important part: me.
That's why I spent the time on encryption and privacy. I don't want the worry and the hassle of others watching me. I don't want to have to check my doors every night. I want to know I am safe to be me. And safe to have my best thoughts. To write without worry of perfection.
I just want to write like it's nobody's business.