How I stopped being cheap and started paying for online services

I think I am getting a better understanding of the phrase “You get what you pay for.” That’s so cliché, but like most pithy statements there’s an element of truth lurking in there.

I recently made the decision to do a paid subscription to Evernote. If you’re not familiar with this online service, it’s one of the best cross-platform applications around for taking notes and saving information from the web. I’ve been using it for awhile and have even done some subscription options in the past. However, I’d also been looking at a lot of other online alternatives to see if I liked something better. Based on what I do in my personal and professional life, Evernote just had all the bases covered.

I went through the same exercise with my task management app. I tried quite a few other online options, but eventually settled on a ToDoist Premium account. Yep, another paid subscription, but it does exactly what I want it to do.

Then I came to the realization that somewhere along the line, I’ve started paying for online services. I’m paying for extra iCloud storage so I can sync all my photos between devices (and I have a LOT of photos). iCloud also supports other key functions of my online life like my calendar, email, and sync options for several additional apps like Ulysses which I use for journaling and writing. I’m also paying for a streaming music subscription and several streaming video services. I even pay a fee to Wordpress for this blog to support my personal domain and an ad-free experience for any readers that happen to come along. Basically, most things I do online that have some value to me I’ve started paying for.

It’s not just about the features and functionality. Security is a consideration. I’ve gone through my accounts and enabled two-factor authentication where available to help minimize the risk of hacking. Besides that, a big driver for these decisions has also been privacy. I am actively disengaging from free services whose business model relies on advertising and tracking. By now, I’m sure most folks have heard the expression “If you’re not PAYING for the product, then you ARE the product.” This really underscores the issue I have with so many social media services. Anything that we do on those sites contributes to the ongoing erosion of our privacy. The level of tracking and profiling that goes on is staggering.

The corporate line here is that they need to know this stuff about you to provide a better online experience. I’m not sure everyone really understands how much privacy they are trading in order to get those better services. Maybe they don’t care? For instance, I just finished reviewing Google’s privacy settings. Not only were my web searches being logged, my physical location was also being monitored along with almost everything I’ve ever done with Google. Props to Google, though, for making their privacy policy accessible and giving people easy tools to check their privacy and activity settings. I encourage everyone who uses this service to check out these settings and ensure you’re comfortable with the amount of information being collected and shared about you.

It’s been less than two months since I decided to give another go at Facebook. I had turned on the Facebook Platform to enable some integrations and spent a little more time interacting with friends online. I had even activated Facebook Messenger and Instagram. It was a neat thought, but I’m afraid I just don’t have the tolerance to continue. Messenger and Instagram have been removed from my devices and I’ve turned the Facebook Platform off and tightened up all the privacy settings again. I’m not quite at the point where I’ve decided to delete my Facebook account, but I have actively considered it. My plan at the moment is to check in on Facebook every four or five months just to catch up. Between times, if someone I know wants to get in contact with me they can reach me via phone or email.

Moral of the story — the best things online are worth paying for, be aware of what you’re giving up to use “free” services, and upgrade your security options like two-factor authentication for every account that supports it. The end result for me is that I have a lot less apps to manage and a greater comfort level regarding security. My online life is simpler and somehow, more enjoyable.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Brian’s story.