Toxic User Mentality?

This is not directed at anyone here, mind you, but I’ve noticed that in some cases in the “privacy” community, there is a toxic user mentality. In other words, “My privacy is better than yours, and I will always be more knowledgeable than you.”

I bring this up because I want to ask the community - why do you think this is the case? Isn’t it more helpful if we can share these tools and techniques with the public (or as some like to say, “normies”)? If others aren’t aware of things like Tor, etc., then how can they be widely adopted? Plus, although I want to improve my privacy/anonymity, I don’t want to go completely off-the-grid. It gets a bit challenging in this day and age.


I think part of the reason is that for people that have researched this a lot the answers seem so blindingly obvious to them, when in reality they aren’t.

It’s also an absolutist thing, where people incorrectly think that because there’s one minor flaw in a certain system it’s no better than a system with many major flaws, because both can be exploited. Therefore we should only promote perfection. And again in reality it all depends on your threat models (which I get tired stating all the time) because some people just don’t want Google/Facebook to have their data but don’t need to be completely off-the-grid, and some people want to accomplish other things.


It’s the same in every group. Linux users fight about who uses the “better” Linux and shame those who use “easier” distributions over more complex ones.

But in privacy, there seems to be a lot of people who forget privacy means different things to different people. Some don’t care that Signal needs a cell phone number to sign up, and some do. Yet when someone asks me which I use and I say signal, I hear so much “oh well, I care about privacy and don’t want anything tied to a sim” as if they care more than I do, but they forget we each have reasons for making the choices we do.

What ironic is those are usually people who’s threat model is so low they really don’t have to be concerned at all about being monitored.


In the end, it hurts privacy. It’s like when someone says they use WhatsApp, we know it’s not safe, but we can’t mock them, otherwise they walk away and never hear why they should look at alternatives.

Also, with millions on WhatsApp people aren’t just going to switch and we need to be realistic about that and slowly move people to alternatives and hope more and more people adopt them.


in a word, ego - we don’t like to be wrong - and that ego exists on every level, even among professionals in the scientific community

we all have opinions, sometimes very strong opinions, but not a one of us is always right and those that aren’t willing to have their current beliefs challenged are doomed to ignorance or, in the case of privacy, doomed to the spreading of potentially inaccurate and dangerous information


The Linux part is so very true!! (hence the “install Gentoo” meme, right?)

I perfectly agree. It’s both annoying, and counter-productive for privacy.

That’s what I call the cult mentality. It’s bad, because it’s wrong, to begin with. Online and tech privacy is a relative thing. There’s no such thing as absolute privacy. Any claims (or suggestions) to the contrary tend to show the author’s ignorance.

And it’s also bad, because it drives away users interested in privacy. If discussing privacy becomes a pissing contest, then only people comfortable with such a mentality will take part. Meaning a small group of users.

Contrary to the received wisdom, this is not a repellent only for low-knowledge users. Computers are mainly used in a professional, business context, and such users make compromises all the time. They understand that being reality-based, as opposed to ideology-driven, is critical to them.

Different users have different needs. Privacy should not be about virtue-signalling. It should be about helping people achieving their aims, without risking what would be detrimental to them (not to someone else).


I don’t know man, I’m pretty toxic. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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It’s Britney Biţch!


Brace yourselves - the Britney memes are coming.

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It depends. We met nearly 20 InfoSec/privacy bloggers – many of them in person – and most of them are really nice people who regularly talk about their ideas and share their knowledge.

However, then there are also some hardcore evangelists who try to keep “their” readers in their filter bubble to spread their view of life. This also happens in everyday situations, of course: You just want to buy some meat in the supermarket and a vegan shows up to tell you that you are the worst person on the planet if you eat meat.

Honestly, if someone wants to use products and services from Google, Microsoft or Facebook, this is perfectly fine for us. Many so-called privacy-friendly alternatives also come with drawbacks and their own problems. There is no perfect privacy and oftentimes, security and privacy depend on your use cases and threat model.

We are all humans and not dictators in the position of telling people how to act. :wink:


just sub’d to your website feed - couple articles there caught my attn. - thanks

I have to disagree with you on this. This problem is very specific to the tech community. I don’t see it other parts of my life. It is an ideological problem. I know some people who are pretty in beer and they might make a joke if order some shitty beer, but none of those people measure their worth by their knowledge the way people in tech do. This is an ideological problem and relates to all the BS advertising that tells us how smart or creative we are for buying and using it.

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To add to this, it’s also counterproductive because, as we’ve seen, you can’t have personal privacy in a world where everyone else has given up their privacy. No matter what I do short of leaving society completely, somebody has me in their address book which is sucked up by Facebook, Google, and the rest.


It’s seriously not isolated to tech.

As someone active in far left politics, I can tell you it’s there. How left are you, what kind of socialist/communist are you?

I know it’s a battle in far right politics and causes a lot of fighting among nationalist groups.

I have also been a journalist and author in the atheist community and this same kind of elitist attitude exists there.

It’s all centered around different topics, but the attitude and mindset are the same. “My way is the right away, and you’re wrong/dumb/etc if you don’t agree.”


there is an astonishing number of people who just missed a few too many hugs growing up.

i’ve worked with some truly brillant people in my lifetime, and I have to say the truly smartest don’t typically feel they have anything to prove. yes of course this isn’t always the case, but after looking up to many jackasses in my early work years, it was so wonderful to meet that one PhD in CS who was just so down to earth, willing to help, and willing to admit he was wrong.

it’s actually something i want to stop and take a second to applaud the moderators/owners of this forum for. i personally think you all have done a great job in setting a tone of helpfulness, respect, and transparency from day one. it feels like you’ve created an environment where people feel safe asking questions. in the big picture, that’s a major contributing factor to further everyone’s awareness, right?


I see your meaning but I think we may be talking about different things. Sure, at this point almost anything can and is transformed into cultural capital and plenty of people derive their self worth from this. If that is annoying or idiotic, it doesn’t necessarily mean toxic. Perhaps it’s a generational thing? I can say I’ve never experienced the leftist equivalent of the Linux master race. Offhand, I’m not sure I’ve witnessed it. The indie music scene does fit. Perhaps you’re right, what do I know.

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^ FOUND THE COMMIE!!! ^ :rofl:

and yes, i agree the problem exists everywhere … i attribute it largely to ego, but there’s more to the story… far more

Hey thanks, that’s the goal!

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