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Don’t get me wrong, technology is amazing, and technology has really been the main driver of the human race’s rapid progress the past 200 years or so.
We have seen so much done in this span of time that it almost makes the rest of human history seem like a speck of dust – something almost negligible in the grand history of things.
But like Marx says, alienation is almost an inevitable process of technology. The greater the automation, the less involvement people have with the products they create.
I don’t consider myself a Luddite, but I imagine that is partially true or at least based on something factual.
When McDonald’s introduced the self-service kiosk, for example, I found that my impression of McDonald’s inevitably changed.
Not in a terrible way, mind you, but in a way where I felt that my initial expectation of human interaction shift into something more sanitised, and more transactional in nature.
And I think that’s the consensus. We’ve grown so much so quickly that human culture finds it hard to keep up.
And as if reflecting an almost cultural phenomenon, we see the rise of dystopian crypto movies (read: documentaries) that reflect just that.
On March 30, 2022, Netflix released Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King.
The film unravels the story of Gerry Cotten, a crypto exchange founder whose mysterious death left investors in a financial quandary, with $250 million at stake.
If you’ve seen the movie, then you know what I am talking about.
The question arises: Does the abstract nature of cryptocurrency alienate us from the human consequences of fraudulent activities?
Is that why criminal activity is so prolific in blockchain?
And of all the technology ever created by man, crypto is perhaps the most guilty of them all. There is no better example of alienation than the phenomenon of crypto itself.
Consider for a moment how people who deep-dive and live their lives around crypto are known affectionately as “degens”.
Then there are the products of crypto, which do nothing to help their case.
Consider for a moment how a decentralised bridge might work – say, the AVAX bridge.
This DeFi bridge currently supports the transfer of Ethereum ERC-20s and Bitcoin to the AVAX C-Chain and vice versa.
There is little to no human interaction on this front. The user is expected to do everything by himself, making every interaction a truly transactional one.
Little wonder why people find crypto obfuscating and hard to understand, and seek to find meaning through influencers who can break down difficult ideas into relatively simple ones.
Podcasts, like Mario Nawfal’s “The Roundtable Show,” offer a unique escape from the impersonal nature of crypto.
He says the show brings in more than 6 million listeners per week on X Spaces.
We know that X Spaces is really where the crypto crowds hang, be it listening to the latest Ask Me Anything (AMA) or even watch Facebook’s live demonstration of their latest AR product.
And honestly it should come as no surprise that he is seeing such success. He gives meaning and human interaction where there is typically nothing but a cold transaction.
In fact, he’s so successful that the crypto consulting company International Blockchain Consulting Group, of which Nawfal is the majority shareholder, says it is currently selling sponsorships for the show for up to $1 million.
Human interaction, not technical complications are what makes blockchain, NFT communities – heck, even the inane blockchain events worth going into.
And on a related tangent, maybe that is why we have seen the rise of Uber’s Greenlight hubs all across the world.
Uber is perhaps another good example of technological alienation – each driver operates on their own, with directions issued by a machine.
For many folks, especially the older ones, that’s a pretty daunting task.
This issue is ameliorated with Uber’s Greenlight Hub, which is a physical location where Uber drivers can go for support with their account or driving issues while driving for the rideshare app.
At these locations, Uber drivers can get help with anything related to their account or driving for Uber.
Which is a god-send, if you know anything about being a driver for Uber.
I don’t think I’m crazy when I say that it is crucial to strike a balance between the convenience of technology and the need for genuine human interaction.
Technology is a means to an end, and not an end in itself.
As we move forward, we must remember that behind the algorithms and blockchain codes, it’s our connections, empathy, and shared experiences that truly define our humanity.