Privacy vs. Convenience:
Finding the Right Balance in the Digital Age

See also: Internet Browsing and Privacy

Our grandparents walked ten miles to get to school. Our parents walked five. Now, a bus picks up our kids from home, takes them to school, and brings them back. It’s easy, and it’s convenient.

Back in the day, people were out in the streets, and the turning on of street lamps was a sign to go home. Now, kids carry a phone everywhere they go, and parents always know where they are. But so do Facebook, Google, and Twitter.

Compared to a few decades ago, privacy is gone as we know it. CCTV cameras are installed at every corner. We carry phones with trackers in our pockets. And we upload pictures of ourselves for the world to see. Yet, life is easier compared to the previous generations.

Are we trading our privacy for convenience? Is privacy lost completely? Or can there be a balance between the two?

Have we lost our privacy?

Compared to Baby Boomers, Gen Z has a different definition of privacy. Some people were introduced to the problem. Others were born in it. Over the past twenty years, the whole idea of privacy has changed. Over the next twenty, no one knows what will happen.

Advocates claim that most people don’t even understand what we share online. For example, if you share a photo on Instagram and have a public profile, everyone can see it. Nothing is stopping a hacker from impersonating you. And nothing is preventing Mark Zuckerberg from collecting data on you. Both Facebook and Instagram are under the company Meta. Yet, Facebook is infamous for tracking 52,000 data points for each user.

Even though they have been fined multiple times for breaching privacy laws, their profits make the fines seem like a slap on the wrist.

Is life getting more convenient?

Instead of going to the library and reading a book on a subject, you can Google the answers for your homework. Instead of making your food, it arrives at your doorstep. Instead of driving yourself, Uber or Lyft will come in a few minutes. The list goes on.

The internet has enabled us to live a life our ancestors couldn’t even imagine. We can see a person on the other side of the globe through a video chat. Even kings and queens couldn’t experience such feats of technology. They would have considered it magic.

As for online privacy, some people believe they’ve got nothing to hide, and we’re already too deep to make a change. Our data is plastered all over the web. Governments and social media companies already know a lot about us.

But what if sensitive information leaks, like credit cards, passwords, and social security numbers? Such instances have happened. Our lives can be destroyed in mere seconds, and the blame falls on a third party. Or, if you’ve clicked on the terms and conditions without reading them, the blame falls onto you?

The discussion on the topic is complex, and both parties have valid points. Privacy used to be a given, and now you have to go out of your way to achieve it. Convenience was never a given, and now we’re getting it for free. Can there be a balance?

How to balance privacy and convenience?

With a few minor changes, you can make your browsing more secure, delete your digital footprint, and gain as much privacy as you want.

  • Use a Password Manager

    First things first, you need to secure all your accounts. Cybercriminals are always looking for their next target, and you don’t want to be the victim. Everything starts with the humble password. You must have complicated passwords for each of your accounts. That’s easier said than done.

    Most people can’t remember a phone number, not twenty different passwords. That’s where a password manager comes in. You remember just one password, and it stores everything else. Sure, this might extend the time it takes for you to log in to some apps, but it’s better than getting hacked.

  • Use 2FA

    Next comes two-factor authentication. This is another nuisance for many people because it makes it even more time-consuming to log in. That’s exactly what you want. If you’re losing time, imagine how hard it is for a hacker that’s trying to breach your account. They’ll just give up and move to somebody else. When it comes to 2FA, it’s much better to use an Authenticator app instead of an SMS message.

  • Use a VPN

    Want a cookie? Almost every website asks you to accept cookies. That’s code for trackers. They’re planting trackers on your device to monitor your browsing. Whenever you land on a website, they check your IP address, how much time you spend, what you click on, and how a specific ad worked on you.

    There’s an easy way to bypass this, and that’s by using a VPN and an ad or tracker blocker. Most people wonder if are VPNs worth it, and the answer is yes. Especially when it comes to privacy. Virtual private networks change your IP address and hide what you’re browsing from the snooping eyes of internet service providers, marketers, and governments.

    Plus, they encrypt all of your data through secure tunnels and have a kill switch that instantly cuts off your internet connection in case the VPN stops working. That ensures no unprotected data leaks online. Most services have additional features that make your browsing more private and secure.

  • Use an Antivirus

    A decade ago, there used to be viruses in every CD that got passed around through the neighborhood. Now, it seems like there’s less malware. But that’s not the case. Viruses are still rampaging on devices, and they can do everything from scraping your personal data to mining cryptocurrencies and stealing your money. If you’ve got a Windows computer, an antivirus is a must. Mac computers are more secure, but there’s malware that can pass through their defenses too.

  • Create Fake Accounts

    If you want total privacy, create a few fake accounts. Whenever you need to use your mail to log in somewhere, use a pseudonym or a nickname. Gamers usually do this, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t too. Have one main email that you use for your online banking or social media accounts, and use another for everything else.

  • Limit posting on social media

    Influencers are infamous for oversharing on social media. They post everything from their breakfast up to their nighttime skincare routine. But some people do that too, just because they want to. By doing so, cybercriminals can track your every move. They can know where you are at all times, and they can use it to your detriment.

    When you post something online, remember that it’s permanent. And remember that someone may be watching. When you think of both those scenarios, hit the post button.

A few final words

The line between privacy and convenience is a slim one. Most people have their own idea of what’s private and what’s not. Based on your personal preference, feel free to use these tips and browse the web more privately.

About the Author

Introducing Mia, the tech-savvy wordsmith who's making waves in the world of tech writing. With over a decade of experience under her belt, Mia has a unique ability to transform complicated tech jargon into engaging content that captivates her readers. Mia is passionate about empowering people through technology and using her writing to bridge the gap between the tech world and the everyday user.