My Year Without Google
An ongoing effort to live without the ubiquitous tools of the search giant shows that it’s possible — and even necessary — to find alternatives to big tech
18 months ago I went on a quest: to quit, entirely, using all the products of just one company — Google. It should have been a simple task, but instead it took me six months to find enough functional alternatives to make the move and close my nearly decade-old account.
A year later, I’m proud to report that I am still Google free. I’ve not only kept using most of the alternatives in my original article, but have found several others that make my Google-free life even easier. I still feel in control of my own data and digital presence, empowered to play, test, and learn about new tools, and be part of a community that is seeking to restore competition, privacy, and freedom to the global web.
Nevertheless, it’s been an interesting year. I notice every time someone says the phrase “to Google,” dozens of times a day, which is more obvious when you are explicitly not googling. I’ve found that people always assume if you are not using Google products, then you must be anti-Google — which is not the case for me. I just want the freedom to choose which services I use, and not be forced to rely so much on a single company. Google is pervasive in our digital lives in a way no other corporation is or ever has been. That is what I dislike — not Google itself, or its products. Its dominance reflects larger issues with the internet itself, and how it is increasingly controlled by a few large multinational companies.
I’ve found that people always assume if you are not using Google products, then you must be anti-Google — which is not the case.
That being said, I’m also more hopeful. The original article I wrote about this has had incredible staying power, getting more shares, responses, and claps every month. Several people have told me that they’ve shifted in part or entirely away from Google since reading my story. Many of the alternatives I mentioned are growing, like DuckDuckGo, which has seen searches jump 54% in a year. People are aware of the problem.