Disruption is Messy
Disruption is messy. Period.
Change is not something we, as humans, navigate with grace or ease. We fight change kicking and screaming. We crouch in fear in a dark corner, as our limbic brain begins to shift into flight or fight mode, and lash out at anything foreign that enters our vision. We armor ourselves and sink into an often detrimental cycle of vehemently fighting the wave of change that is slowly coming at us- bracing for the inevitable tsunami that will alter our lives.
And let’s be honest, we’re all exhausted from the last few years of perpetual fear and disruption of our daily lives at the hands of a virus we can’t control.
Now take that looming specter of change and wrap it in a technological container that takes some serious dedication to understand and also possesses the potential to disrupt the existing power and economic dynamics currently enabling the patriarchal and corporate webs that keep us all trapped in the wheel of consumption and you have the ingredients for a straight-up war.
That’s what some technological communities are now facing. And this is not the first time we’ve faced such scenarios. The builders, creators, innovators, and community linchpins in the web3 space are now facing the backlash from such societal altering change in a way we never had to in the past.
We now face a backlash that is powered by serious corporate and governmental resources. Weaponized algorithms refined and effectively deployed during the Trump years are now fully operational and can interject polarization into almost any community, conversation or collective. Content farms filled with bots are now interjecting vitriol into every possible area of sensitivity to fracture our collective experience. Disinformation is at scale in a society that is, for the most part, too lazy, overwhelmed, or traumatized to actually gather and process facts as opposed to manipulative talking points designed to polarize and separate.
Because controlling a polarized population is so much easier than controlling a collective that is united and supportive of a movement or a cause. The institutions that control all aspects of our society fear a technological change that poses a legitimate challenge to existing economic structures. The corporations who control the content you consume and the servers where it lives have no desire to embrace decentralization and the thought that a creator can control their destiny outside of the corporate framework they control is a threat to their business model.
So these corporations and governments tap into their systems to try and stop such innovative disruption. They pick up the phone and call the editorial boards of media outlets and tell them to FUD on the disruption from multiple angles.
Tell the public the blockchain is destroying the planet- that’s an easy narrative to craft and sell. The general population has no idea the amount of server power the apps on their phones use, much less a technological advancement they have no ability to understand. Um hi, how detrimental to the environment is the existing banking system? How much energy do Amazon’s servers consume to power your streaming binges and late-night shopping sprees?
Tell the public that only criminals and money launderers are using this technology to do nefarious things on the dark web. Um hello, have you seen the fiat dollar and how much bloodshed has occurred when criminals and money launderers used greenbacks to commit crimes?
Tell the public that this technology is a scam and a pyramid scheme. How can the public argue that when they have zero understanding of how the technology works?
Tell the public this disruptive technology is to blame for the struggles in their lives and demonize the very thing that could lift them out of financial hardship and give them a sense of sovereignty that is almost impossible to access in modern life.
When I look at the depths of what’s broken in our society at this moment, I see so much unnecessary pain. Runaway inflation, food costs through the roof, housing markets completely inaccessible, health care almost non-existent, supply chain collapse, looming wars-- so much pain and suffering.
When I look at the web3 space and the communities within it, I see hope. I see BIPOC communities tapping into vehicles of financial independence and generational wealth that they could not access in the capitalistic banking system built on systemic racism. I see young, emerging artists selling NFT artwork and creating a life-altering income doing exactly what they love-- and never having to commercialize their art to put food on the table. I see developers creating true solutions to technological problems that make our world a better, stronger place. I see communities lifting one another and leaving no one behind. I see groups of scholars and builders exploring how to create global public goods attached to the blockchain so future generations will have access to the powerful information that lies at the bedrock of our collective human journey. I see people restoring the public commons through blockchain and this is a mission that transcends the currency aspects of this technology.
When I look at the web3 ecosystem, I see hope. It’s one of the few places, outside of my spiritual community, where I see hope these days. And I guess that’s what breaks my heart about this whole situation. The journalists from major media outlets like Wired and the NYT could be celebrating the hope nestled within this beautiful disruption, but they’ve been directed to participate in its destruction because the people who sign their paychecks are threatened by such disruption.
Is this technology perfect? Of course not. What technology is? I remember waiting 2-3 minutes for AOL to connect to my email while my 8-pound laptop was attached to a phone line on the kitchen counter. That shit sucked. I remember doing a collaboration in 1994 with another college class on the other side of the country, using this new thing called “the internet” and my mind was blown. I remember building my first blog in 2004 using some janky-ass Cpanel bullshit cloud thing and it was awful. But it still worked. And I saw what was possible.
And that’s just it. We’re at the beginning of massive technological disruption and anyone and everyone that stands to lose their dominance over the collective is fighting with all of the technological advancements possible to stop the inevitable change. The beginning of any disruption is messy and now we must navigate a system that has deep weaponization built into its apparatus to destroy disruptions and innovations by separating and polarizing all of us.
So my question is this, will you fight against the powers seeking to destroy innovation? Will you join these communities building an open, decentralized technological structure that is already creating life-altering financial means and freedom for so many? Will you simply choose not to be manipulated by the media narrative designed to polarize and control you?
Will you simply be quiet and let those of us working to make your world a little bit better do our work? Can you do that? Or will you simply fuel the polarization by sharing disinformation regarding something you’ve chosen to learn nothing about?
When your children look back at this time period and ask what role you played in building the technology that powers their everyday lives, will you be able to live with your answer?
Proceeds from my NFT collections support my work in the public goods impactDAO ecosystem working to restore local media through decentralization at JournoDAO and my academic work studying and archiving wisdom traditions through decentralization.