We are Digital Slaves

Chris Herd
4 min readOct 23, 2019

We are all Digital slaves. You. Me. Your Parents. Children if you have them.

Privacy is the biggest challenge we face today, and even more so in the future. It’s so difficult because the problem is not physically apparent. How can something be true that we don’t feel or see, nor does it require us to expend any effort or energy?

Other people or corporations owning any part of our digital identity leads to exploitation of our privacy and attention. We don’t own our virtual identities, other things or people do. We don’t profit from our personal data, privacy or attention, other things or people do. We are subjugated, exploited and put to work by Multi-Billion dollar enterprises who profit from our participation.

Attention economy conglomerates leverage this to enrich themselves while exploiting us. But we don’t feel it. It’s something we are intrinsically aware of, and increasingly so, but for convenience we agree to free products and services in return for being taken advantage of. We can’t see the value or tangibility of our participation so its value to us is impossible to judge.

Until we recognize the problem we can’t even begin to start changing it.

It should be considered a form of servitude, where our attention, data, and privacy is exploited to enrich others. We are indentured to these services. Sure we can leave, but almost universally our data remains. We have contributed so much to the platform it becomes impossible to tear ourselves away. The sunk cost fallacy keeps us hanging on. We see the stories of data leeks, we’ve experienced the rise in the value of these massive platforms, and what has our reward been? Loss of privacy on a scale hitherto unimaginable in human history.

Looking back 30 years from now Web 2.0 will not be recalled fondly. I expect our grandchildren will question us with contempt ‘you let companies own and control your personal data without any oversight of what it was used for or the implication of that?’. Precisely — and we did nothing about it.

Who owns you?

Physically you are free.
Digitally you are not.

We need to own both our digital and physical selves. As the boundary between the two continues to blur the problems…



Chris Herd

CEO / Founder / Coach @FirstbaseHQ Empowering people to work in their lives not live at work ✌️✌