Many will know me as a tireless online campaigner for a more equitable and sustainable future through The Free World Charter, this site Freeworlder and a myriad of Facebook pages promoting a moneyless world. After six years of this, I have decided to reduce my online activism drastically. Why? Because online activism, in this day and age, is just not worth it.
In the wild, heady days of 2008 – 2012, the internet was a mysterious hinterland, full of promise and rapidly unfolding ideas. New, radical ways of thinking were emerging and getting lots of attention, riding the crest of a massive social media uptake. The Free World Charter was among them, and that site enjoyed an intoxicating ride and rise to prominence among a new merry band of online activists, pirates and forward-thinkers.
One could easily have been forgiven for thinking at that time that the world was literally about to change in a heartbeat. Well, it didn’t. The furore over the banking crisis, protests and ensuing activism died down, leaving behind just the few diehards (like me) to continue posting our ideas out to an invisible – yet visibly shrinking – audience.
Added to that, the internet became a unruly, crowded room and social media struggled to cope with the huge increased volume of traffic, adopting stricter feed algorithms and sponsored placements. The little revolution party in the corner slowly got lost in the noise.
And what normally happens when activists stop getting attention? They nitpick each other. Infighting over minutiae – dissecting and trisecting each other’s ideas until fault is found. Splinter groups emerge, then the splinter groups splinter, and so on.. It’s a common story among many’s the revolution. In the absence of momentum, frustration and internal rancour bubble up.
But, this is actually not why I’m giving up activism. Although splintering and bickering is a problem, I have also reached a point where I realise that no amount of online activism is going to make enough of a difference to change how world society operates – even if we could reach the required number of people.
If people get a pleasant, rewarding experience from engaging in x, then they will probably do x again. That’s it. It’s not rocket science.
For a start, our society doesn’t operate according to anyone’s specification, nor behave according to any scripted idea like ‘capitalism’ or ‘socialism’ (We just like to think it does). It operates solely on the common actions of people. If someone gets a pleasant, rewarding experience from engaging in x, then they will probably do x again. That’s it. It’s not rocket science. The action x then becomes a common facet of society – like money and trade for example.
In short, we like and repeat whatever works. Our ancestors did not give up stone tools and start using bronze tools because someone thought that would be a really neat idea. No. They started using bronze tools when they experienced for themselves how superior those tools were.
I’m not suggesting that online activism is useless or pointless, but in terms of ‘return of investment’ for the time put into it, it is almost pointless – and especially wasteful when there are other activities you could engage in that could help create that working alternative. Extemporizing about a moneyless world – no matter how sound the logic – is a very poor cousin to showing someone a successful working prototype that is noticeably superior to the existing system.
As R. Buckmister Fuller said, “You can’t better the world by simply talking to it. Philosophy to be effective must be mechanically applied.”
So it’s time to put my money-free ideas where my mouth is, and work towards creating this prototype: The FreeWorlder Network – a free sharing search engine to be launched in Spring 2017.