Breadcrumbs or the Whole Goddamn Loaf? (Process Post #9)

Everything is everywhere! You can’t stop it!

The podcast transcription assigned for reading this week opens with a little story about someone named Amanda, leaving behind a little trail of digital breadcrumbs. Little bits of information about ourselves that rather than holding, we let them fall out and drop behind us. And so, to this discussion of breadcrumbs, I raise to you the WHOLE GODDAMN LOAF.

With all the breadcrumbs we leave behind – location, apps used, bank cards attached to our accounts which is all digital – you can piece it all together to uncover mountains of personal information – where we live, our personal interests, how in contact (or not in contact) we are with friends and family. Anyone with access to this kind of information could without a doubt uproot our entire lives and absolutely ruin us.

You put all these breadcrumbs together and you get the loaf – a hearty chunk of personal information that when picked up after you, hardly belongs to you anymore.

And when it’s no longer in your hands, who knows what someone else could do with your loaf?? Eat it?? Break it apart and give it to other people?? Sell it?? Eat some of it and break some of it and sell some of it?? The possibilities for the downfall of your loaf are endless.

Weird analogies aside, this podcast discusses the blissful ignorance of leaving these breadcrumbs behind while raising the question of whether we should be worried about this unawareness. To answer that question, I would say that more than ever we NEED to be aware of this information.

Something I have always found interesting is how people don’t care if their personal information is being leaked, as long as they don’t know about it or it doesn’t inconvenience them. Out of sight out of mind, until suddenly there’s random charges on their credit card or they can’t get into their email or their Spotify password was changed by someone in South Africa and since they’ve been ignorantly living on auto-pilot and don’t have access to the email attached to the Spotify account they can’t go back in and change it. And no, that is not a personal experience (yes it is).

We’ve long left the era of “don’t show your face on the internet” and have reached a point where dozens of apps literally require location services, and we will even willingly share our location with friends and family. Or even complete f**king strangers! Exhibit A: Tinder. Isn’t there something mildly concerning about that? We even tag ourselves at locations. If you go for brunch at the Coquitlam Grill on a Sunday morning, and post it on your Instagram story, your 782 followers know EXACTLY where you are at that EXACT time, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg above all the information we don’t actively throw out. We’ve grown so accustomed to it that, as the podcast says, we are living “blissfully unaware,” demonstrated by all the questionnaires with results of uncertainty around the nature of their data trails. 

Our everything ends up everywhere, and I would argue that we have reached a point where without taking critical action, it is inevitable. So how far do we need to take our digital awareness? Should we be living in paranoia? Are we beyond salvation? 

But more than anything…

How inconvenient are we willing to let our lives be in order to protect our personal information?

Pod Academy. 2016. “Digital breadcrumbs: The data trail we leave behind us.”

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