Disruption Isn't Just Moving Money Around

Disruption != "twitter but now more fascist"

Disruption Isn't Just Moving Money Around

I really like the idea of disruption, but I really hate how its meaning has changed.

Disruption, or the upsetting of the status quo for something theoretically better, is my jam. I really like the idea of flipping the board over, even if just for the sake of upsetting the pieces and the standard power structures that have evolved over the last several centuries. I genuinely think that disruption is a result of, and a cause of, healthy experimentation. It prompts a cyclical process that threatens to improve the way we do things by ensuring entrenched power structures and modes of doing things only stick around if they are the way they are supposed to be done. Disruption in its true sense is anarchistic in nature in the same way that anarchism is disruptive in nature.

Disruption, as in the Silicone Valley buzzword, is seemingly almost always not actually disruptive. You get the term bandied about when referring to another startup founded by The Guy Who Has Been Doing Startups for 20 Years. Is it really disruptive that said guy is doing another Twitter clone but this time a protocol? Maybe; The At Protocol does have the potential to be incredibly disruptive... but not because Jack is doing it. Jack moving capital around to a new vehicle is not disruptive. That's just moving capital from one pocket to another in the same way that you move your wallet from your backpack to your jacket pocket.

A disruptive approach would be a social media that incentivizes socialization instead of an attention economy. That is disrupting the industry of attention. BlueSky might be that... it also might not. I'm optimistic but not overly so.

Robinhood is another example. It supposedly gave access to the masses to invest their hard-earned money into the stock market... except that didn't really disrupt anything. It just made it a little easier for people who previously may not have developed a gambling addiction to do so from the comfort of their home. It's not disruptive to allow people to take their earnings and throw them at Microsoft, Apple, Google or the penny stock and options markets just because they can now do it from their phone with a pseudo-gamified interface. Robinhood in effect isn't all that different from E-Trade, Morgan Stanley or any other interface aside from it being a bit easier to sign up. A better UX is neato, but it's not "disruptive."

Rumble, Gab and any other number of right wing social media sites aren't "disruptive." They're Twitter but with (more) fascist mods. It's not disruptive to put a new skin on an old thing to support the same old industry that's been around since the early 2000's.

What am I asking, then?

First, let's stop using the word disruptive for "things that arouse VC fantasies" and "x but now with y." It's just watering down vocabulary with nonsense.

Second, let's build actually disruptive stuff. Build a hyperlocal, ephemeral social media protocol and platform that makes it easier to privately and securely organize protests in your local area. Build a censorship-proof mode of file sharing so that banned books can more easily make it into kids' hands. Hell, go disrupt traffic holding a sign in your hand for the cause you believe in. Disrupt things IRL and online, and reclaim the word disruption.