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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Expressing Dissatisfaction: Less Voice, More Exit

It's easier than ever to share our opinions, but can we act on them, too?

It’s cheaper and easier than ever to express your voice. Information is so cheap to create, distribute, and consume that for the first time in history, everyone can (theoretically) broadcast instantly to the whole world.

Hot takes are common. You don’t need to write out and submit your review of a movie to an editor. You can tweet it right from the theater before the credits roll. Resistance to political oppression and unhappiness with proclaimed leaders are faster and easier to share, too.

This is a good thing. Voice and exit are two powerful tools to improve the institutions under which we live. The fewer barriers to each the better.

In fact, I’d argue most modern ideas of what it means to “do something about it” are really just versions of voice.

The fact that voice has become 1000x easier while exit has become only maybe 2x easier in the last half-century is interesting. It means, I think, that things are better overall, but the relative ease of voice over exit seems to have tilted culture heavily towards a “say something about it” versus a “do something about it” mentality. In fact, I’d argue most modern ideas of what it means to “do something about it” are really just versions of voice. To me, the really powerful “do something about it” is exit. Or, as Frank Chodorov put it, “not doing something about it.”

Consider a pop culture example. Star Wars: The Last Jedi wasn’t a good movie. Most people didn’t like it. When a product isn’t very good, you just don’t buy it, right? Not in an age of voice > exit. It seems the main response from people unsatisfied with the film was to watch it and then spend countless hours telling the fans and creators that you hated it, and furthermore, that they never should have made it and should be using their creative energies in a way you like more. Voice, voice, voice. So much voice, exit seems the forgotten option.

Sometimes it’s better to forget protests and Tweet wars. Just exit the stuff you don’t like. Vote with dollars, not voices. It’s more empowering, positive, enjoyable, and effective.

This article was reprinted with permission from the author.