(A follow up to this 2015 post.)
Religion was once the primary communal force in society. Gathering together with a common purpose, under a shared doctrine, helped people identify like-minded individuals to spend time with.
As our world moves more towards secularity, where do we look for belonging?
In school, there was a club for everything. Any cause you believed in, political group you belonged to, or activity you enjoyed had a corresponding club with a meeting in a dorm common area once a week.
But it gets harder to find that same community after college. Our society is increasingly fragmented socially, while more connected digitally than ever before.
So how do we find community now? How do we identify which people share our values?
On the internet, there are markers.
Just look at Twitter, where people add a variety of symbols to their profiles in order to connect with other users.
For example, look at the recent popularity of NFT avatars. The use of NFT art like Chromie Squiggles and CryptoPunks as Twitter profile pictures has made it easy for cryptocurrency fans to find and build community online, tied together by shared interest and knowledge.
Many people have also taken to adding emojis to their Twitter display names, from more broadly recognizable emojis, like flags noting a person’s country of origin, to more niche ones, like 🦩 used by members of the Flamingo DAO.
All of these symbols are badges that people wear online to signal something about their identity to others.
Sending these signals is important.
When it comes to investing, and even shopping, I know I’m not alone in looking for signals. They tell me a lot about a company: what type of business they are building, what they value, what they aspire to, and the importance of having impact as a pillar of that vision.
If you’re in the market for new shoes and interested in sustainability, you might flock to Veja or Allbirds. If you’re an outdoorsy type looking for camping gear, you might go to a brand investing in conservation, like Patagonia.
If a company matches your values and invites you to join a community of like-minded people? Even better.
For fitness, Whoop and Strava provide tracking technology along with access to a community of people striving towards the same goals.
In all areas, communicating your values and identity to the world in a quick and efficient manner creates an advantage. And we’re thrilled to see this manifest within some of our favorite businesses.