CULTURE CLASH: The Reason You Don’t Understand Steemit Is Because It’s Like A Gift Economy Not A Commodity Economy
I’ve been getting a lot of Steemit Chat messages that I’m currently not answering. Actually, I’m getting messages from all over social media requesting my advice about Steemit and cryptocurrencies. I’m not accustomed to this level of attention and I find that I’m now unable to respond to everyone. However, I don’t want to ignore people as I think that’s rude, so I have started to think more about how I can help people better understand Steemit.
I now understand why people find it so difficult to comprehend: Steemit has characteristics of the gift economy and we’re all living in a European-dominant commodity economy paradigm. Let’s first explore the gift economy.
A Gift Economy is one where status is given to individuals based on what they give to others as opposed to a commodity or exchange economy where status is given to those individuals who have the most (Pinchot 1999). -Learning To Give
Native cultures are based on the philosophy that humans are the stewards of the natural world, and not consumers of the world’s resources. Unlike European American values, “wealth” in Native American culture is not measured by net worth, but rather by a combination of spiritual qualities, material goods, and behavior. Leaders are selected for their ability to take care of the tribe by sharing their wisdom and wealth (Millett and Orosz 2002). -Learning To Give
So, let’s take a look at a concrete example of the gift economy in action on Steemit.
A well-known, popular Steemit user, @papa-pepper, exemplified this gift economy behavior towards an individual, @darthnava, who was going through a difficult life situation. @darthnava recently wrote a post in which he described his challenging medical situation: he received some life-threatening MRI results and found out that he would be needing surgery immediately. He also revealed in his post that he didn’t have the funds to cover this life-saving operation. The Steemit community responded swiftly and proactively, with a huge majority of the whales (large account holders) upvoting his post to over $17,000, which was more than enough to cover his medical expenses. However, @papa-pepper went out of his way to donate $2,ooo USD out of his own pocket to @darthnava.
After @papa-pepper made his huge donation, the Steemit community once again went wild with upvotes, cheering on @papa-pepper’s generous spirit and the entire community lifted up @papa-pepper, almost to a king status.
These upvotes turned out to equal a significant amount of money, too. This type of behavior is more reminiscent of Native American tribal culture, not European commodity culture in one very specific way: @papa-pepper acted from his own conscience, not from an institutionalized philanthropy paradigm. He didn’t donate to a charity, he donated to a person directly by acting from his own conscience. Here’s @papa-pepper’s belief system in a nutshell:
It’s a simple statement but one that is currently not embedded in our mainstream commodity-centric, obsessive net-worth culture:
“It is important for us to help one another when the opportunities present themselves.” -papa-pepper
The gift economy is further understood when we look at what happened to @papa-pepper after he had made the huge monetary donation.
The Steemit community was so overjoyed by his act, that they began upvoting his comments about his donation. These upvotes from the community turned into a significant sum of money. @papa-pepper’s account was then padded, but the real boost came in the form of his enhanced character, increased status and leadership position as a caretaker of the Steemit tribe. Steemit at this stage, it is a tribe, I would assert. And @papa-pepper like myself, came into Steemit with nothing, and also does not have a huge account. His account is a medium-sized one, and he’s considered to be a dolphin. There are plenty of accounts much larger than his. But his account is growing due to his behavior and status as a power giver. This is opposite of what is currently being touted as a successful, killing-it-entreprenuer bro meme:
Nothing about @papa-pepper’s act was institutionalized, as it came directly from his heart, not through some organized philanthropy foundation. Empathy was its fuel.
This is in direct conflict with the European-dominant model of wealth hoarding and emphasis on net worth.
Furthermore, in the European model, the donor would not instantly receive back a portion of his donation. S/he might get a tax break, but those funds would not be returned instantly by the community which received the gift.
Of course, lots of wealthy people give money to philanthropic foundations and gain status by giving such donations.
But @papa-pepper is from a modest background and was not a rich man when he entered Steemit. His natural gift-giving behavior is the reason he’s become rather well-off in Steemit. Plus, he’s an active blogger with a wealth of creative ideas that are inclusive of others. I believe his spirit is a real example of the gift economy and the primary reason he’s doing so well on the Steemit platform. And hence, why it’s so hard for newbies to grasp his success. Understanding his success requires a gigantic mental paradigm shift that no one really explains or breaks down into digestible directives (until now :)).
This means that there’s a culture of giving, and that giving to others can increase one’s status, wealth and position in Steemit. The more one gives to the community in the form of useful energy, the more one receives in the form of money.
It is the super nerds who hold the purse strings in Steemit, not the sleazebag marketers with zero substance.
The other thing that’s different in this example is the fact that @papa-pepper’s act was so direct, and affected the community in a direct and immediate way. That is partly because the friction of banking has been dissolved. A flash of empathy can result in a life-saving donation in less than 2 minutes.
This is the reason that posts from open source programmers receive such high payouts on Steemit.
Creating open source software and other programming projects is a very time-consuming, meticulous endeavor. And if it’s open source, then no monetization mechanism really exists within the code itself. Steemit recognizes and monetarily rewards the gifts of these open source programmers, thereby creating a stable way for these programmers to continue making their Steem software projects. Steemit completes the circle that has been broken for a long time, both with programmers and other creative types who generate un-monetizable gifts of the mind.
Nature and our imaginations are abundant beyond our wildest dreams. It is because of small-minded, greedy men that most of humanity suffers today.
Steemit a sustainable model for super nerds, as well as others who create and share abundance, and I’m not aware of anything else like it on the internet.
It could be the first time that true intelligence is considered to be the dominant money-generating commodity. Of course, there are popular vapid posts that make a lot of money, too, but the highest grossing Steemit post of all time was created a programmer. Here’s a screenshot of the $46,973 Steemit post that details the open source Steem GUI:
Here’s a screenshot of the payout and upvotes:
Being successful on Steemit is linked to how well you can navigate inside a functioning gift economy. Time to throw out the old worn-out paradigms and learn something very valuable for the present and future.
About the author:
Stellabelle has written one book, Un-Crap Your Life, which is available on Amazon. She can be found most days on Steemit, so follow her there: https://steemit.com/@stellabelle. She also works for the Dash DAO as an editor, writer and video creator.