Startup Cyanide (Part 1)
Startup entrepreneurs want you to buy their chic, solve-all innovations. The dominant market for these trendy businesses is a group of people looking to tweak their lives such that they can be more productive or ahead of the pack. The products they market ultimately hurt the problems they wish to solve, adding to underlying societal issues of flash-bang consumerism and environmental degradation. Often buyers do not stop to think about how the promises of their coveted gadgets and commodities fall very short of more-fulfilling goals that require much greater effort to accomplish.
Each new era of innovation has cumulatively overthrown the last, resulting in a world in which no idea is unheard, and yet creativity stagnates. Every bio reads “designer and entrepreneur,” “engineer and growth hacker.” Where one product ends, endless iterations begin. We are losing focus. Instead of careful refinements and bold new ideas, startup culture has drowned America’s consumer nation in habit-forming, time-mongering froth. Nothing is sacred when everything is pierced with a price tag, especially when that tag gets hidden in the sleeve. It is time (it has long been time) for modern businesses to contribute to modernity through moral redirection and stray from the petty prizes of consumer trickery and depersonalization. To accomplish this, problem-solving products must retrace issues to their founding frameworks.
You’ve just pitched a lean-to and are headed out to hunt for tonight’s dinner. Walking past your brother’s tent, you spot logs whittled and lashed into a peculiar contraption. He emerges, strolls across the landscape, lifts up the narrow end of the device, and starts pushing it across soft soil. Astonished, you put down your bow.
Village life is simple. Functional. Fields anchor the population. The elders are worried about travelers who keep piling into huts and settling nearby. You devise a plan to meet up with that man from the trading post out west and carve up blueprints for more practical housing.
Soon enough, the division of labor deepens. Bakers refine their recipes, weavers tinker with more precise tools, knives become sharper, and the gentry are onto some advanced form of scrawled speech.