I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that a lot of our current economies, whether they be local, regional, or national aren’t working. There exists major challenges for people in purchasing goods from the grocery store, and securing things like housing, education, and basic goods. And this reorganization of the economy means there’s a lot of people that are out of a job and aren’t necessarily interested in the ones available.
And although we can’t get everything met by our current economic systems in place, all of us, as a collective do have all the we need to support each other. Pandemic era groups like mutual aid showed us the power people as a collective have. So I started looking into what something like an automatic or digital mutual aid could look like.
And the solutions are there. In addition to classic things like stimulus checks, digital systems could make our lives much easier-whether it comes in the form of a digital dollar, which the treasury is researching, or if we try to consolidate our resources. Moving a mutual aid network digitally could include building out systems that could automatically match people needing a specific type of assistance for a cause, like medical expenses, to someone that’s passionate about that. It could also happen geographically, by neighborhoods or cities.
During the Pandemic, I, along with millions of other Americans, especially young ones, engaged in the informal economy of activism. The GoFundMe eye surgery for the single mom, the Venmo rapid response call for the friend on eviction row, and the grocery mutual aid run club. These are the systems that supported us as electricity grids failed, people lost their jobs, and living got too expensive. The formal economy of activism, the nonprofits and foundations, largely failed to deliver on their promise. Lengthy regulations and pulls in funding for most, showed the weakness of our current charity economy.
We’ve let our economy define what we value and who should own and have the power to store and donate our resources. We need to build a new system that considers the wellbeing of all people and one that considers wellbeing, not economic growth, as an indicator of value. As we move towards a digital future at risk of being and replicating the ways our current systems have failed us, there’s a third option. We’re already moving towards apps like Chime and Venmo over bank accounts, our generation can also decide to support each other with something that could like a cryptographically based mutual aid network. That’s what I’m researching next.