Privacy is Still Alive
Dec 4, 2022
One fine day…
I was at Hamley’s, window shopping. I stumbled upon some items that would make for great joke gifts. I had the one-liners and everything ready in my mind.
As I was walking toward the billing counter, feeling proud of myself, I came to a halt.
I was a tad bit too late. Another person had surpassed me to the counter.
“Ha, more time to reminisce” I thought to myself as I scanned the adorable sock lineup next to me.
I turned to see a kid surpassing me with a big pack of hot wheels. “Another one?” his Dad exclaimed. “Well it’s Christmas Dad” his son replied. I know what you are thinking. No, I am not translating a Tamil conversation into English for the sake of my blog. From the looks of it, they were not from India.
“Can I have your name and number, Sir?” The guy at the counter asked the man before me.
I had zoned out looking at a Mickey mouse sock, wondering why I stopped watching Mickey mouse. Mickey was a cool dude. Well, everyone loved Donald more though. Sorry, Mickey, Ducks are cuter!
“Can I just pay and leave?” the customer replied.
This response was enough to pull me out of my trance. It had startled both me and the counter guy.
What’s next was even more shocking to me. “Of course, Sir” he responded, with a sheepish smile on his face.
OF COURSE SIR?!!
The customer paid him in cash. “Do you want a bag, Sir?” the guy asked. The man replied, “No I’ll just carry it, thank you” and they left.
I stood there, mesmerised. Are you telling me that all this time, I never really “had” to give you my personal information? That I could have just skipped that step all this time?
Now, this probably shouldn’t shock me as much. Of course, it’s your choice. Why do we have to give it? What shocked me most was that I hadn’t questioned it before?! I had always persuaded myself that I was giving out my info for store credits and coupons. But I almost never get any store credits at Hamleys. And I never get time to smartly use up the coupons either. Why did I give out my information easily then? And why had that guy known that he didn’t have to? Was it because he was visiting temporarily? So many questions…
“Oh yes, sorry” I stepped forward. As he billed the gifts, I asked for them to be gift-wrapped.
At this point, I felt a ticking clock in the back of my head. I was slowly inching toward that moment that could define my philosophies forever. I could choose to not give my information and see what happens.
“May I have your name and phone number?” He asked, placing the gifts aside.
If you hadn’t experienced social anxiety before, this is going to feel dramatic. Well, that’s half my intention too. But I swear, at this moment, I felt like I was underwater while the sounds of the world faded away.
The words “Don’t give it” echoed in my head. Beads of sweat seeped into my head. My gaze was lost in his. My heart beat faster than usual.
No, I wasn’t falling in love, I was anxious as hell.
“Name Radhika, My number is…” I blurted out.
The walk to my cab was a clear walk of shame.
The instant I got back home, I realized. I need a hack to navigate these situations with minimum friction.
That’s when I came across one of Erica’s reels about maintaining a separate Gmail account for stores. This email could be your source for credits and coupons.
Right around your birthday, you could just walk into stores and get discounts for your purchases.
I realised I was lazy.
Jakob’s Law talks about this very phenomenon in a different way.
This, along with Hick’s Law , helps answer my troubling questions
We, the users, navigate so many products and services every day. Each demands a certain amount of information from us. It is a mentally overwhelming process. In order to reduce this choice, we stop questioning things.
It was the same reason why I sometimes “Accept all cookies” and why I give out my information when I could in fact deny it. Denying it feels like an effort. So I chose convenience.
Changing this slowly is absolutely vital.
In the spirit of changing this behavior, I have now created a Gmail account with some wrong information *wink wink* and will be using it for coupons and credits hereafter.
See you on the other side, Comrade! 👋 Fight the system 💪