You must sacrifice

Written by Theundercoverman on 2022-03-28

Privacy and anonymity is beyond difficult if not impossible to achieve, and you cannot expect to have privacy by changing a few settings and using different services. If you want to have a reasonable amount of privacy, you must sacrifice.

Now what do I mean by sacrifice? I mean there are things you are going to have to give up. You are going to have to exit your comfort zone, make significant changes to your life, and give up more than just Google, Microsoft, and Apple. You cannot fight surveillance by simply using Tor or a VPN and not using your real name online. You have to make sacrifices.

Things you must sacrifice


Most of your “friends” are just glorified acquaintances, people who just happened to be around, coworkers, and classmates. The “friends” you have today, you probably won’t even care about in 5 or 10 years from now. When is the last time you’ve seen any of your childhood friends from when you were in school? It’s probably been years and you’ll likely never see them again because they were never true friends. Most “friendships” do not last very long and once they go, they are never coming back. People are confusing friends with acquaintances.

Internet “friends” are really nothing but glorified strangers that you think are friends even though you’ve never actually met them. The “internet friends” I have are just the ones that happen to be in the Dig Deeper group chat, and once it shuts down and everyone goes their separate ways, we’ll all probably forget about eachother because internet friends are not real friends.

Most people only have a few true friends their entire life, but you can’t really expect them to start using Tor, ditch Discord and WhatsApp for XMPP, and use GNU/Linux or OpenBSD. If you can’t talk to them in real life (or OMEMO-encrypted XMPP, PGP-encrypted email, or IRC), you are either going to have to give up your privacy and use Discord or another spyware service, or you can ditch them. Most people cannot be converted into full privacy autists.


You can’t keep using Google Chrome, Windows, iOS, streaming services, and Discord if you want to have privacy. In order to have a reasonable amount of privacy and anonymity on the internet, you are going to have to sacrifice convenience. Get out of your comfort zone, take time to learn things, learn to live without search suggestions (for search engines), webmail (for email), and other shit. Most mainstream alternatives to spyware services like Firefox, Brave, DuckDuckGo, ProtonMail, and Signal aren’t all that great. VPNs won’t protect your privacy, nor will Encrypted DNS.

You are going to have to take time to learn how to use GNU/Linux or one of the BSDs, including how to use the commandline and using CLI programs. There are many GNU/Linux distros. Personally, I use Void Linux, but any distro that doesn’t use systemd will do. Or you can just use Whonix, though I haven’t used it so I can’t recommend it for now. You’re also going to have to learn how to use anonymizing networks like Tor and I2P, how to encrypt your communications, and a lot more. Finally, you are going to have to change some of your habits online, such as disabling JavaScript on all websites, using frontends like Invidious and Teddit, and using different usernames, passwords, and emails for each of your online accounts (you really don’t need a lot of them).

Software you like

I like Pale Moon’s user interface. It looks great, reminds me of the old Firefox that I used to use many years ago, and is customizable. Unfortunately many programs today use WebUI or Electron which is bloated and, in my opinion, looks awful. GTK used to be good until it introduced client-side decorations (CSDs) which more and more programs are switching to. Unfortunately, if we want to have privacy, we are going to have to use the Tor browser, which is based on Firefox, which is bloated as fuck and has a shitty UI. While it is possible to use Tor with other browsers like Pale Moon, it isn’t recommended because doing so would make you stand out and easy to track, ruining the whole point of using Tor. Of course, this might just be an excuse to use the official Tor browser, but considering your connecting to a network in which everyone else uses the offical Tor browser, even if your entry and exit nodes change, your browsing history could be made public for the world to see (in which case, you’re better off not using Tor at all). If you expect to have any privacy using Tor, you’re going to have to sacrifice minimalism and deal with an awful UI.

Now let’s say you finished installing a base GNU/linux system and you’re ready to install a desktop environment or window manager. Xfce, Openbox, and IceWM all look good, but none of them support Wayland. Xorg has no GUI isolation, which means any window can access another window, allowing programs to spy on eachother. Wayland isolates windows by default, but only a few desktop environments support it. You can’t use Xfce or IceWM anymore and expect to have privacy. You have to use the bloated GNOME (which looks awful, uses client-side decorations, and has few settings) or KDE. Fortunately some lightweight window managers exist for wayland, most notably Sway, but of course, you’d be sacrificing convenience (unless you’re switching from dwm or not having a GUI at all).

Video Games

Sadly many video games are only available on Steam and even the ones that aren’t either phone home or include antifeatures. For example, Veloren, an open source game, uses Discord for global chat. And it’s not just PC games, but consoles too. While you can still play video games without an internet connection, many games require it now (Xonotic won’t start without an internet connection, though i’m not sure if it’s intentional or just a bug).

If you are really committed into staying private and anonymous at all times (which, by the way, is impossible), then you’re going to have to give up all of your video games. You could always read books, play board games or card games, play basketball or football outside, ride a bike, and do many other things besides play Fortnite, Cyberpunk 2077, or whatever everyone else is playing now (I don’t even know because I don’t keep up with shit).

Job Opportunities

Since many jobs require use of spyware services from Google, Microsoft, and others, you can either just use those and give up privacy, or try to find a different job that doesn’t require internet at all, but then you’ll have a much harder time trying to get a job and make money. Of course, people might stop working entirely in the future and everything will be done by AI, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Is the privacy journey worth it?

If you are willing to make all these sacrifices, give up your friendships, your social media, your convenience, and the software you like, in order to come as close to privacy as possible, then you should continue your privacy journey. Otherwise, you might have to give up, because at some point, you’ll have to use spyware services, you’ll have to go back to Windows, and you’ll have to accept that you will never be private online (something you’d have to accept regardless of whether you sacrifice or not). The privacy journey is not easy (if anything, it’s impossible). You can’t just boycott a few companies and use a few different services. You will have to change your life entirely.

I have a better question. Does the privacy journey matter? Everything we do to protect our privacy, all of the digital campaigns, activism, and privacy communities dedicated to teaching others how to stay private online—does any of that matter? Because the truth is, nothing we do to protect our privacy and anonymity matters because in the end, we are all doomed. Privacy activists, developers, and service providers are just delaying the inevitable. One day, there will be nothing left for us, nobody will have any privacy, and we will all surrender to the big corporations who will inevitably win the war for privacy (if they haven’t already won, which they probably have).

So why haven’t I given up yet?