Here’s a simple truth: the world makes a lot more sense when you realize we’re living through a narrative transition. We’re moving from the late industrial & early information age to the digital age. And as we shift – our policies, rules, institutions, and social norms are changing. If you’re not paying attention to these changes, you’re unlikely to catch the new narrative that’s forming.
And life will start to make a lot more sense when you begin to see the narrative change.
Identifying the narrative shift starts with acknowledging that we’ve covered a lot of territory this past year.
The world is significantly different now than it was before COVID. This isn’t a groundbreaking truth.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the world is different today than it was 2 years ago. But if you’ve been consuming traditional narratives (from the mainstream media and government officials), you may not be as in tune with the societal transformation that’s underway.
To the people that have been paying attention, it’s clear that a massive societal change is underway. That there are digital fault lines forming and merging together to create the digital transformation. And that this transformation is kicking into high gear.
This essay will recap what these fault lines are, what they mean, and the evidence we’ve seen thus far to validate how they are changing reality.
What is the Digital Transformation?
What is the digital transformation?
It’s the technological changes and advances that lead to the reshaping of society. These technologies cause rules, policies, institutions, and norms to change.
Looking back throughout history, there are many examples of key technological changes that transformed society. Farming, irrigation, the printing press, gunpowder, and airplanes are a few technologies that changed society’s structure. These technologies brought about feudalism, the middle ages, the information age, and the industrial revolution.
But change has historically taken a lot of time to diffuse through society.
Today, technologies seem to take about 10 years or less to work themselves through society. Time needed to achieve the level of mass adoption which results in societal change. The smart phone, social media, on-demand services, video conferencing, cloud storage to name a few.
As these digital trends accelerate, they end up working together under our radar. Out of view from our attention spans. These changes work in tandem to reshape society even faster than ever before.
And as these trends combine, they create what I call digital fault lines. Areas of society where old policies and institutions clash with emerging trends of the digital age. These fault lines represent both challenges and opportunities for society.
The bottom line: groundbreaking technologies of the past decade have finally diffused through society and are shifting us out of the late industrial/early information age into the digital age.
And that is fundamentally changing the narrative. Creating conflict between the status quo of the past age and the advocates of change.
The Fault Lines Created From Transformation
Digital fault lines are the particular areas of conflict between the status quo and agents of technological change. Some of the main digital age fault lines that have formed:
- The Exponential Age – The internet changed the means of modern production and economic value drivers, and its value is growing at an exponential rate.
- Remote Work & The Tech Enabled Exit – You can now live and work from almost anywhere. This impacts why and how we decide where to live. And its impacting governments as well.
- Nationalism vs Neo-Medievalism – Late Industrial, early Information Age policies and institutions are chaffing against the Digital Age’s emergent decentralization and the creation of digital communities and loyalties. This creates self reinforcing conflict. Nationalism is rising to combat these changes.
- The Sovereign Individual is born from decentralization, remote work, and the fragmentation of traditional institutions. It’s a new class of people that governments will increasingly try to attract or attack.
- Startup Cities – Sovereign Individuals are forming new digitally native, online communities using experimental governance models like DAOs. And they’ll use these DAOs to create new physical world institutions and cities.
- The Metaverse – All of these trends reinforce the approaching Metaverse Singularity – the runaway evolution of the internet which has far ranging implications for social interaction and governance.
- Transhumanism – How we live and interact between the digital and physical world is changing because of digital and physical enhancements such as second brains, biohacking & longevity science.
- Space & Multiplanetary Humanity – We are on the verge of becoming a multiplanetary species. This will reinvent geopolitics on a fundamental level.
COVID-19 Sped Up The Narrative Transition
The narrative of the late industrial age was focused on mass consumption, standardization, and nationally organized identities. But that’s changing with the technologies of the digital age. We’re moving to a narrative defined by individualization, on-demand services, and globally decentralized communities.
Over the past 10 years we had the mobile smartphone revolution, it brought us on-demand services, constant digital connectivity, and social networking. Simultaneously, we were introduced to crypto assets and decentralized digital infrastructure. And quietly in the backdrop and at a small scale, we had remote work and gig style economies begin to form.
But these changes didn’t impact overall societal makeup immediately. Inertia kept life progressing as it always has. These changes seemed like fads and trends at the periphery that supported the late industrial society and did not signal the reshaping of the world.
And yet, they were quietly working in concert, under the radar, reshaping society.
Then COVID happened.
COVID acted as a trigger and an accelerant for the adoption of many of these digital trends at larger scales. Causing the adoption of these technologies throughout society more rapidly than they otherwise would have.
At the core of the change – lockdown policies, which forced society to adapt by adopting digital work frameworks aligned with the digital age.
Lockdowns created the primary catalyst for accelerating one of the more important digital trends. That is remote work.
Remote work was forced across society as a consequence of lockdowns and it proved to be a manageable style of work. The ultimate consequence is that remote work reinforces and accelerated many of the other trends hiding beneath the surface.
And now, the narrative transition is happening all at once.
Narrative Transition Creates Cracks & Fault Lines in Society That Are Converging
We now see a fragmentation of society along nationalist and neo-medieval lines.
Allegiances to belief systems beyond the “nation” have pulled loyalties in many different directions. Immediate conflict arises from issues like: Pro-lockdown or not. Pro-vaccine or not. Pro-decentralization or not.
The Sovereign Individual began to emerge in the midst of these fault lines. At a larger scale than ever before. As more people became aware that they could earn money online, they had their eyes opened to how they could better take advantage of what the world had to offer.
As a result of varying lockdown policies, remote work, digital income streams, and the emergence of the Sovereign Individual, we’re seeing the beginnings of startup cities. Neo-medieval communities that are forming online via DAOs with people from all over the world. Miami is a great example of converging trends impacting the physical world. As a large number of tech workers relocated to Miami to form a community of common beliefs.
In the backdrop of COVID, space flight has experienced a massive boost from SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic (among many others). As a consequence, we’re seeing Starlink come online and provide internet access to even the most remote places on earth. This further reinforces many of the main digital trends.
And with COVID causing fear in people, we have as a society found a desire to biohack our way to overcoming health issues. This is a modern resurgence in transhumanism which has profound consequences to society. Should you be required to take a vaccine or not? Should you be using pills and injections to achieve healthy outcomes or diet and exercise?
All these changes seem as though they are now happening at once. And that they are happening faster than ever before.
As These Fault Lines Converge, Society Changes
Nationalism is on the rise around the world because of the pandemic. The pandemic highlighted the fragility of our globally integrated supply chains. It’s caused a push to invest in localism and nationalist policies of protectionism.
But despite the rise in nationalism, there has also been an increase in neo-medievalism.
The Sovereign Individual thrives in a world with Nationalism because it means governments will compete for knowledge workers. We’re seeing many governments create policies designed to attract remote workers willing to relocate.
This has consequences impacting how policies are created or changed in the digital age. People are choosing to relocate when faced with bad policies and deteriorating qualities of life.
The exponential age, remote income, and neo-medievalism trends combined to form new digital communities and income models.
Like the creation of Axie Infinity, the game incorporating NFT-based cryptoassets and new play to earn business models. These trends merged to create new opportunities to generate income around the world. All you need is internet access and a smart phone to change your economic status, creating a significant labor arbitrage. Instead of competing for jobs and income with your local community, you now compete with the entire connected world.
And it’s changing how companies compensate their employees. As more companies allow for remote work, they’ll increasingly shift their sites for capable employees with low cost of living standards that demand lower compensation. Reinforcing the global labor arbitrage that the exponential age brings.
Looking Ahead – What Comes Next
Looking ahead, the COVID outbreak appears to be an endemic virus. Just like the flu. This truth will take time for the world to process.
Lockdowns, vaccine mandates, & vaccine passports are trends we can expect will accelerate change. They will function as a triggers for many digital trends.
Trends like nationalism, neo-medievalism, remote work, and the Sovereign Individual, which will all rise sharply over the next 2 years. And with these trends, the societal narrative will continue to rapidly shift.
We’ll continue to see rising nationalism and authoritarianism. And this will lead to the formation of entrepot enclaves like Miami and Austin. Places that maintain individual freedoms as opposed to collectivist policy.
We can also expect the space industry will start to impact many of these digital trends.
The rapid developments in private space industry have set in motion significant changes that will impact earth based society. Like rapid point to point flight and cargo transport. And in space manufacturing. In a world disconnected by rising nationalism, space might prove to be a method of keeping the world integrated.
That is especially true when considering satellite based digital connectivity. The private space industry is making distance irrelevant to global integration. It makes it possible for remote communities to connect to the internet, earn incomes, and perhaps sometime soon they will be able to set up space based supply chains.
The longer term consequence is that remote communities of Sovereign Individuals willing to relocate may begin to emerge towards the end of the decade. Made possible by an emerging space industry that empowers new levels of logistics.
Regardless of whether these speculations come to pass, it’s clear that the narrative is shifting fast. Adapt now or run the risk of being left behind.