Tech Veganism

A new phrase enters the world. Fresh, new. Hopefully it’ll keep its original meaning. I doubt it, though.

So, what is “tech veganism”? Described by Nolan Lawson as:

 I don’t have a smart speaker, a smart watch, or any smart home appliances. My 4-year-old phone runs a de-Googled LineageOS that barely runs any apps other than Signal and F-Droid. My house has a Raspberry Pi running Nextcloud for file storage and Pi-hole for ad blocking. When I bought a new TV I refused to connect it to the Internet; instead, I hooked it up to an old PC running Ubuntu so I can watch Netflix, Hulu, etc.

Nolan Lawson

I used to be like Nolan. I tried really hard to live the open-source life. Use GNU/Linux, de-blob all the things, privacy settings, etc. Of course, I cheated. I mean I do have to live with other people, and as much fun as email via Emacs was… it wasn’t realistic. You can only do so much before the system itself shuts you out, or turns your life into a never-ending nightmare of trying to do basic things. People look at you weird. Your friends complain. It sucks.

For me, what broke me was a couple of things:

  • My wife. I couldn’t keep asking her to use or to try and interact with some outdated, broken or just crappy tool because of ✨privacy✨. Sure, she cares about her privacy, but she has a job to do, too.
  • Ease of use. I was trying to get Debian to encrypt the two drives I have in this laptop as a single encrypted volume group. I didn’t want to be bothered going through the arcane incantations on the command-line to do it. I just wanted this pretty standard thing to just work.
  • Lack of presence. Most of the time, you’re stuck using one or two devices. Typically, that means you need your laptop to be portable. No, I’m not going to try and fight an Android device so that I can get a half-assed version of sync going without having to be baptized in the Google ecosystem. Sorry, Apple got to me first.

I’m sorry, but I can’t live the ascetic life. I’m almost 40 years old, and I’m missing my life because I’m too busy with my face in a screen to make sure some venture capitalist bros don’t get my viewership data, or trying to excise proprietary software like some sort of cancer without even knowing if the growth is benign or not.

I have to, at this point, pick my battles. I refuse to die on a hill that doesn’t meet me half-way.