How I quit using Google search and saved a lot of time

Email and web surfing is a time sink. Yet it's become much less of one for me. Why? Because the ads that Google places on web pages are no longer interesting. What a relief!
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

Google is a large advertising business. They sell ads that use the information you give them when searching to let advertisers target you with offers that you will find appealing. It works - and that's the problem.

A year ago I made DuckDuckGo (DDG) my default search engine. They bill themselves as the "search engine that doesn't track you" and asks if you are "ready to take back your privacy?" I like that.

Now, DDG isn't an exact replacement for Google, but they're close. I almost always find what I'm looking for with them, but it can be more work.

The biggest feature I miss is that you can't specify a search period, such as the last week or year, or a date range. But only a few times in the last year have I been forced to go to Google for a difficult search.

A year of living privately

It took a couple of months before I noticed that my ad experience was changing, both online and in my spam folder. I use SpamSieve, an excellent spam filter for Apple Mail, to sort the 500 or so emails I get every day.

Now, most of the online ads I see are either irrelevant to me or are related to my last search on Amazon. This is wonderful.

I'm not sure how Google influences spam, but it has defintely changed. Now my spam folder is filled with spam that I don't care about. That makes it easy to go through hundreds of spam emails and not get hooked by an enticing subject line.

What's more

The types of untargeted ads are suggestive of the underlying demographic markers that advertisers - and Google - use to slice and dice their product- you.

Gender. Possibly because of my name, I now get lots of spam and webpage ads targeted to women. I run ad blockers on some of my devices, but it sure makes web surfing easier when the ads are ones I will never care about.

Ads for problems I don't have. Breast enlargement? Makeup secrets of the stars? Life insurance? Delete!

Ads for interests I don't have. Woodworking? Russian beauties? Delete!

The Storage Bits take

My problem with targeted ads is that they work. I'm a little ADD so maintaining focus is often a challenge.

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Given the advantages of a Google-free existence, I have to wonder what Google is costing the world economy. If interesting ads cause each Internet user to spend an extra five minutes a day on non-productive shopping, with almost 3 billion Internet users today, that's 15 billion minutes or over 28,000 person years of productivity every day. It probably pales beside the time wasters on Facebook, which I am not on, but it raises a larger issue.

When your demographics are packaged and sold, Google places you in a statistical box that advertisers bid on. The ads that target you remove your volition from the inputs in your life. You are a passive receiver, not an active searcher, defining and refining your own needs and desires. Free will may be a delusion, but it's a delusion I like.

How does DuckDuckGo make money? Like Google they sell ads, but the ads at the top of their search results are directly related to the search that you made. They don't aggregate your data and sell it advertisers.

If removing the friction of targeted ads appeals to you, try DuckDuckGo for sixmonths. I think you'll like it.

Courteous comments welcome, of course.

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