tl;dr: Taking control of your personal data, privacy, and the algorithms/protocols that support a digital lifestyle is like choosing to be vegan, keto, healthy, or mindful. It’s about living with intention. Warning…the following ideas are only half-baked, but I needed to get them out.
I am starting to wonder if choosing a blockchain or a Web3.0 approach is actually as much a lifestyle choice as a technological choice.
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Leaving aside the naming challenge (is it blockchain, crypto, or Web3.0?), I think it represents a movement of people who want to live with intention, self-discipline, and personal agency.
If THAT message can get refined and promoted, and not the one about all of the technical virtues of the tech, I wonder if there are groups of people who would be more open to hearing the larger story and engaging?
Web2.0 has led to an Epidemic of “Digital Diabetes”
We have all seen where Web2.0 got us.
The current platforms are manufactured for maximum engagement, creating a dopamine stream of addiction. It leads to poor choices of time, stunted intellectual development, and ever more fantastic claims designed as ‘click-bait.’
Back in 2010, Nicolas Carr wrote a book entitled, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. You can gather its hypothesis immediately. At the time, it was widely derided within tech circles for its supposed sensationalism and over-reaction.
Now, 10 years later, in a “post-truth” era with teenagers addicted to their phones, I am not so sure he was wrong.
I see it in my own house and we see it all across society. We are just beginning to understand the implications and anyone who has paid attention to global politics recently knows that there are many.
Societies with an abundance of physical resources have a growing physical obesity problem.
Societies with an abundance of digital resources have growing information obesity problem.
The Short Story of High Fructose Corn Syrup
As I was thinking through some of these ideas, I started to wonder about how we got here.
I started with high fructose corn syrup.
It turns out that High Fructose Corn Syrup was commercialized in the early 1970s as a response to growing geo-political change.
Oversimplifying it a lot, political upheaval in sugar-producing nations created a supply crunch in the US, driving the need for a technology-driven alternative to provide Americans with something sweet that wasn’t expensive.
What started off as a solution to one problem ended up becoming the cause of another, even bigger, problem.
Today, with the Internet effectively controlled by a few massive corporations that do not have the best welfare of every individual as a core value, billions of people are in the process of abdicating their rights to personal choice and freedoms.
I could go on for pages about the power of Alexa and Google to manipulate you through the answers it gives to your questions, Facebook to affect what you think and buy given the newsfeed, and Apple by preventing certain apps from running on their phones.
Combine all of this with Big Data/AI, etc. and it’s not difficult to imagine how are lives will be controlled by algorithms of which we are not even aware.
An Alternative Digital Lifestyle
Any trend has many causes, but over the past few years, we have seen an explosion in the number of people doing yoga and meditation and choosing a vegetarian/vegan diet, just to name a few.
Given the recent IPO of Beyond Meat (even if it did get a bit irrational), it’s clear that investors think this trend is here to stay.
I suspect that this is how many people choose to react to their own growing awareness to the unhealthy elements of the “mainstream” lifestyle, which has led to so many health problems, both physical and mental.
I suspect that this is where Web3.0 has a chance to really shine.
One of the more interesting marketing moves I have seen recently is from Blockstack, which put up an ad outside of Google’s headquarters. It was a “poke the beast” type of move that I am not 100% sure is worth the money now, but I could be wrong (after all, I’m blogging about it now, so the ROI is clearly huge, right?
But what I think IS brilliant about the billboard is that it builds on the theme of “Web3.0 as a lifestyle brand.”
As in, you either want to be part of a movement that says “don’t be evil,” but is constantly pulled in the direction of evil in the name of revenue.
Or you want to be part of a movement that literally cannot be evil.
And if you choose the “I want to be part of a group of people that literally cannot be evil,” then you are making a lifestyle choice.
You are choosing to take control of your personal, digital destiny.
You are choosing to ensure and protect the digital freedoms of others from unknown, unseen, monopolistic powers that don’t care about you…they care about your wallet.
Would you trust Coca-Cola to make dinner for your family?
Self-Discipline and Self-Control is a Choice
I have been reading a lot of stoic philosophy recently in preparation for a trip to Greece later this summer to study the roots of Democracy.
The most well-known of all of the philosophers is probably Marcus Aurelius, the last of the “good emperors” and the author of “Meditations.”
Marcus Aurelius said,
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
Given all that we have seen over the past few years (e.g. Cambridge Analytica, etc.), I suspect there is a growing awareness and frustration with the high-sugar diet of Web2.0 that is creating digital addiction and digital diabetes.
What most people don’t yet realize is that there’s a healthier alternative.
Thirty years ago, there were no vegan products on the shelves in supermarkets. No one was doing yoga in Times Square.
Today they do.
Those people have made a lifestyle choice for their bodies.
Web3.0/blockchain/crypto is the lifestyle choice for their minds.
A life full of digital intention.
Is Web3.0 the next Lifestyle Brand? was originally published in Data Driven Investor on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.