Updated: Feb 10, 2019
What could be better than performing a great deed without the requirement of hard effort? It is difficult to change habits, to constantly remember the effects of plastic on our planet when we so desire a chocolate bar and it is these daily choices that make environmental change so tough. However, we must make these changes if we are to ensure the long-term survival of the vast array of species on Earth. And we simply must do this, it is our duty as conscious, moral beings, we must use our intelligence to do the really smart thing. Current ‘progress’ is dragging us to a dire place.
However, let’s keep this positive (I will try but often fail). Where can we get some easy wins, make changes that do not involve spending money, getting involved in the complex and enraging world of current politics and without having to run to work in the freezing rain?
This is perhaps the easiest win I have come across and its benefits are vaster and more varied than we may initially consider. I am calling for a mass migration from Google to Ecosia. Google is enormous, hugely rich, terrifyingly powerful and can affect the world beyond what I could ever have imagined. The internet has changed things and it’s a scary new world, but its reach is kept pretty well hidden from view. Information about us is the new oil and gold, probably more valuable than either of these. By ‘knowing’ us, understanding our ways, our patterns, our relationships and our desires, this new surveillance capitalism can subtly nudge us towards whatever works best for those at the top, the elite, cleverly masked behind the veil that makes it appear that they are simply making our lives more streamlined, reacting to our wants in an almost altruistic manner, but ‘efficient’ lives are often someone’s heavy wallet and a bunch of devastated rainforests, satisfying our needs is not their yearning, power is and we are handing it to them on a silver platter. It remains the same old story- the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Facebooks algorithms can answer a personality quiz about us better than our own spouses after we have clicked ‘like’ 300 times and with an astounding 4 million likes every minute that is a huge amount of knowledge (and power). Facebook really knows us. These are incomprehensibly powerful tools with the ability to alter far more than whether we buy a fizzy drink or instead opt for some free water, our very autonomy and free will are at question. These companies can manipulate, to a large extent, our political decisions, our understanding of the markets and our opinions on almost everything. Their polarising ability is terrifying, why didn’t I see that Trump could get elected and that Brexit could happen? Because none of my friends thought so either… These websites are powerful way beyond what the designers could ever have dreamed and we all willingly participate every day, with every click, like, follow and share, we hand over more of our individual power to the destructive hands of big business.
However, it is hard to say no, these sites are already so deeply rooted into our lives that we are bound to them- if I leave Facebook, I will likely lose touch with certain friends, struggle to connect with new and interesting people, be unaware of exciting events and groups in my area- I will be outcast! The online world is not a fiction, it translates entirely to our real lives, it has come to govern them. We are in a very difficult scenario, but we do have a choice and we seem to have forgotten that this is a democracy, it is supposed to be the masses who have control, not a method of massive control over the people. Our best interests are not being met and we are being duped into believing that they are. If democracy and capitalism in their current forms were doing their jobs, why are we so bloody unhappy, why does it appear that systems like the NHS, education and public transport are crumbling…? Why is fascism on the rise? What about rising debt levels? Decreasing leisure time? Something is amiss.
Sorry, I promised positivity.
For the sake of this post, let’s look for an easy win. Google is a powerhouse in the global economy and these giant monopolies must be challenged by a competition of ethical, environmentally just organisations. If we, the people, strive to be aware of and support the best companies we can by educating ourselves on the realities of our decisions however hidden from view, the markets will respond and the world will benefit. We can 'do' politics this way, vote with our small daily choices like billions of micro referendums. Do you think what you do doesn’t matter because you are just one person? We are currently 7,632,819,325 individuals (July 2018). Our individual choices will define what the future looks like. Obviously, we cannot blindly trust the advice from those who will benefit from our choices, we must become aware and participate in the deeper reality of this world.
Today, my small positive choice is about changing a word in the English language- I vote for a change of the verb ‘to Google’ over to ‘to Ecosia’. If you do not know what I am talking about, 'Google it' (it may be your last Google ever…) and click the ecosia link.
What is Ecosia? Ecosia is a search engine that uses profits from our searches to plant trees. As of today, they have planted just shy of 50 million trees and that is going up about a tree every second. Each month they publicly publish their financial reports and tree planting receipts to be open and accountable for their work, a refreshingly honest and worryingly rare move.
All you need to do is click this link: https://www.ecosia.org/ then make Ecosia your standard search engine (for when you use the search bar at the top of your browser). You can ‘Ecosia it’ for instructions on how to do this, and how to make it your homepage if you want.
Done. A good deed, moving the power from the scary to the good. Happy searching. Perhaps share the Ecosia link on Facebook (more on them soon…) and let’s help reforest the planet.