As the COVID-19 pandemic began, it fundamentally reshaped our way of living. With long-lasting lockdowns and social distancing measures, the average person began to rely more heavily on technology for work, communication, and entertainment. Even with the scientific advances that prevented an even greater tragedy, allowing us to return to the face-to-face routine, we perceive that some changes are here to stay. Big technology companies, including the notorious big tech (Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Meta), gained terrain quicker than expected, and now influence almost every aspect of society.
Those companies have increasingly monetized our lives, and now every digital interaction has become a commodity. This so-called "attention economy" is based on tech companies, especially social media platforms, competing for our attention by continually bombarding us with notifications, and targeted advertising. The profit comes from engagement, guided by a sea of distractions that wants people always online.
The South-Korean philosopher Byung-Chul Han states in his book "The Burnout Society" that social media, notifications, and information overload are all part of a system that makes people more susceptible to dominance and exhaustion. Han describes that this contemporary phenomenon turns focus into a difficult task, making humans live in an era of alienation and lack of fulfilment.
The technology industry hasn't changed only socialization, but also how people work. The gig economy is what we call short-term or freelance work arrangements intermediated by digital platforms. While this new trend has provided many people with an opportunity to earn money in a modern/flexible way, it also got a lot of criticism, since it does not offer any stability or protection for workers. Companies like Uber earn up to 20% of their contractor's earnings for providing technology, and they also determine the price of the contractor's work. Gig economy companies are also criticized for their total centralization, contractors have little to no voice over the company decisions, becoming just a disposable part of the business.
In addition to monetizing our work and labor, the gig economy also created ways for people to monetize their homes and hobbies. One popular example is the Airbnb platform, which allows people to rent their homes to travellers. While home-sharing platforms like Airbnb have provided extra income for homeowners, they received critics for contributing to housing shortages. Some landlords took advantage of Airbnb's popularity by evicting long-term tenants and converting properties into short-term rentals. Byung-Chul Han sees the Gig economy as a part of late-stage capitalism, where an individual becomes his own master and slave, a self-exploiting worker in their enterprise.
Decred and society
Decred is a community-driven project that presents itself as a counterpart to many aspects of contemporary technology companies. The Decred community understands that it needs to offer a new perspective to people, be it about finance, social networks, or governance.
Decred governance model
The emphasis on decentralization and community governance allows Decred stakeholders to have a say in the development and decision-making of the network. Power becomes more balanced, instead of being in the hands of a few entities. This stands in contrast to the gig economy, which frequently prioritizes quick profits over the community's desires. Encouraging stakeholders to take a long-term view of the project is one of the ways found by the project to ensure sustainability, helping the project remain resilient over the long term.
Decred stakeholders decide the spending of every cent of the project. Politeia is the platform where the destiny of Decred treasury funds is discussed and voted. Proposals must include a detailed plan for how funds will be used, as well as a timeline and an estimate of costs. Once a proposal is submitted, it goes through stakeholders' voting. If it is approved, the funds are then released to the proposer, who will be responsible for carrying out the work.
Decred new take on Social Media
Going against the grain of traditional social networks, Decred launched Bison Relay, a secure, private, censorship-resistant social media and messaging platform that gives users custody over their data. Jake Yocom-Piatt, Co-Founder and Decred Project Lead stated:
"The web is broken and in desperate need of a reboot...The root of the problem is that the web and social media platforms are fundamentally custodial networks. When people have custody of your data, content, and metadata, they can record, sell or even manipulate it."
Bison Relay gives users sovereignty with absolute freedom of expression and custody. The platform offers end-to-end encryption that ensures only the intended recipients see the content of messages. Users of Bison Relay can monetize their content, rather than being monetized by centralized entities, using the built-in-Lighting Network.
Decred New Paradigm of Work
A layer 1 DAO, like Decred, is built around a new paradigm of work, where anyone with valuable skills for the project can contribute. The funding of contributions is made through the Decred treasury! The project does not receive any part of the contributor's work like some gig economy companies do. Fair retribution gets paid for flexible labor, made by contributors from all around the world.
The Decred network is built around the principles of fair pay for fair work, transparency, and decentralized decisions. In the face of many challenges posed by modern social media and gig economy companies, Decred provides a powerful alternative that empowers workers and community, rather than exploiting them. Decred represents a new society, one that is more trustworthy for all.