Lifestyle & Culture Are Human Operating Systems

The cultures we adopt influence our decision making processes. Our lifestyle choices act like personal operating systems for life.
Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

Religion was one of the world’s first operating systems. A set of beliefs and rules that dictated lifestyle choices and formed unique human cultures.

The cultures we adopt influence our lifestyles and decision making processes. And as a consequence, our lifestyle choices act like personal operating systems for life. When we choose a lifestyle, we close off life choices and pathways, while reinforcing others. Lifestyle choices are the human way of adopting a decision making codex from a cultural group. Like choosing between Windows, Apple, or Linux operating systems. Our lifestyle group that we connect with alters our belief systems.

As we transition from the industrial age to the information age, and now the digital age, the lifestyle operating systems of happy people are changing. And as we move deeper into the digital age, we will see a fragmentation of society along an infinite number of cultures. Ultimately, this fragmentation of preferences and decision making systems will give rise to the Sovereign Individual Age.

Lifestyle Choice Dictates Decision Making Choice

The concept of choosing your culture and lifestyle represents a type of high level decision with significant 2nd and 3rd order consequences. As the world advanced into the industrial age, the standardization of everything became common. Humanity moved from an agrarian lifestyle of scarcity to a society organized around mass production. Mass production led to the standardization of everything, in order to take advantage of economies of scale. Simply put, standardization became desirable because it provided an unprecedented level of abundance for society. More food, more clothes, more toys, and more of everything.

But as we then transitioned into the information age, automation and computing started to fragment lifestyle preferences.

Why? Because it became cheaper and easier to produce goods and services at smaller scales. And through globalization, a majority of goods are now produced in the developing world. This shifted developed world economies towards the emerging technology & service oriented sectors. An increasing percentage of the world now had their base human needs taken care of. Abundance culture from a mass production society addressed many of the baseline human needs.

Because many people now have their baseline needs addressed, developed society is experiencing a shift towards the fragmentation of lifestyle groupings and preferences.

We can use Maslow’s Pyramid of needs as a framework to understand this change. The bottom rungs of the pyramid are now almost totally addressed in developed industrial societies. As this happens, societies begin to focus on psychological wants and needs which vary significantly, resulting in a breakdown in the standardization of society.

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Return to Tribalism

The introduction of the internet to society provided access to all types of information. Through creation of the smartphone and globalized – just in time supply chains, almost all our desires are now available from a few taps of our fingers.

The problems created by modern societies have become problems of choice and overabundance. We are exposed to massive amounts of choice and constant change on an accelerating basis. And its driving us insane. But most importantly, its breaking down our traditional mental operating systems of decision making. Instead of focusing on decision making systems for physiological and security needs, we now focus on systems that provide psychological and self fulfillment.

And as a result of overabundance, people are increasingly looking for lifestyles they can adopt to limit the number and types of choices they must make on a regular basis. In a sense, we want a lifestyle that tells us what to do and how to think. A predefined universe of actions we are able to take. A lifestyle that functions a lot like an operating system.

With the internet exposing us to a community of 4 billion people and growing, the types of lifestyles a person can adopt have grown exponentially. And as a direct result, we no longer see massive cookie cutter lifestyle groups. Instead, we see factionalized groups of communities built around common ideals. And these communities function as tribes that support and reinforce our lifestyle operating systems.


Have you wondered, why does it seem like our political discourse is constantly at ideological odds?

The fragmentation of belief and lifestyle operating systems has come at a direct conflict of democratic government systems that address standard community needs. Fragmentation of preferences reinforces the notion that neo-medievalism is emerging in the digital age. Ie: there are different non-governmental communities that pull people’s loyalties in different directions. Like the Church in medieval times.

Our standard political affiliations have broken into sub groupings like Progressivism, Conservatism, Libertarianism and an infinite number of fractionalized micro communities. All built on a distinct set of ideals and morals for how life should be lived and governed.

Because you can now find and connect with an infinite number of communities online, we see this fractionalization of society growing. The rising tribalism within our broader national communities are starting to break down the common way of life. These tribal groups are increasingly in conflict with one another. And we haven’t acknowledged this change in global discourse.

Until we acknowledge the fractionalization of society along an infinitely growing line of lifestyle operating systems, we will struggle to govern society at massive scales moving forward.

The Sovereign Individual & Decentralization

To be clear – I don’t believe government will fail. But governments will continue to experience a slow stagnation as their constituents fragment along a growing number of lifestyle preferences. This will force governments to adapt policies to support the growing number of lifestyle preferences in their communities.

This adaptation reinforces the rise of the Sovereign Individual. As governments fail to adapt to changing preferences, individuals will move to locations that better suit their ideals. Supported by remote work and the tech-enabled exit, we will see a large scale reshuffling of people moving to communities that support their belief systems. The change will be slow at first but then will advance rapidly. And we are already seeing an example of this reshuffle of communities take place referred to as the “purpling of America”.

In time, future governments will function more like DAO’s – decentralized autonomous organizations. DAO’s are created by many lifestyle constituencies with many different and unique motivations. Fractionalized groupings of people (tribes) will come together in coalitions to drive policy choices. In general, these digital age communities will be similar to open source movements, working together towards common goals. And splitting into different groups (forking) when disagreements form that cannot be reconciled.

The people and governments that accept this accelerating change to society will be better positioned to take advantage of it.

I’m building a digital age worldview. Every Monday, I write and curate a publication called The Sovereign Individual. A weekly newsletter that includes news roundups and analysis to help digital age workers adapt and thrive in our changing society. Topics intersect at geopolitics, fintech, crypto, individual responsibility, and personal freedom. Don’t get left behind, subscribe below.


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