Hi. I'm Dan. I'm a web content analyst and creative strategist based in Providence, Rhode Island.
For the past year or so, I've practiced what I've come to think of as “ethical digital citizenship.”
Just as vegans refuse to use or consume products that include animal byproducts, ethical digital citizenship is the rejection of software products and technology companies that rely on the exploitation of their users or their workforce.
You won't find me on social media (with the exception of LinkedIn). Facebook has made vast sums of money by selling ads to white supremacists and other hate groups. Twitter has punished victims of abuse rather than ban users who use Twitter’s platform to spread hateful, toxic ideologies and threaten their critics with death and sexual violence. I try very hard to avoid using Amazon whenever possible due to the humiliating and degrading way it treats its workers. I refuse to use PayPal because it was founded by Peter Thiel, a billionaire whose data analytics firm, Palantir Technologies, built a database for the Department of Homeland Security in order to target, arrest, and deport undocumented immigrants. I won't use Airbnb while traveling, as research data shows that Airbnb perpetuates racial inequality in the housing market and drives gentrification in neighborhoods of color. I avoid ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft because of these companies' exploitative business models and refusal to recognize their drivers as employees. I say this not to brag, but to highlight just how many of the services, brands, and companies we interact with on a daily basis are built upon structural systems of oppression, exploitation, and inequality, particularly in the technology sector.
Living a lifestyle of ethical digital citizenship isn't easy. In fact, it's quite the opposite. By refusing to use most social media services, I'm dramatically restricting the potential reach of my work and limiting opportunities to meet and connect with like-minded people. By refusing to use Amazon, shopping is significantly more difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. By refusing to use ride-share services, I'm forced to either use my own car, which has a negative impact on the environment and my city, or to rely on public transportation, which is frustrating and inefficient due to chronic, purposeful underfunding of vital public transit initiatives.
However, there’s a world of difference between rejecting software services on ideological grounds and refusing to use hardware manufactured unethically. There’s no such thing as “cruelty-free” hardware. E-waste—the harmful byproducts created during the manufacturing of smartphones, laptops, and other essential devices—causes widespread environmental devastation and untold human suffering. There’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, and there’s no getting around the fact that our devices are killing the planet and the exploited factory workers who make them. Recognizing the damage that our consumerist culture and lifestyle choices are causing is the first step in working toward a fairer, more ethical society. It’s uncomfortable to admit that we’re part of the problem, but until we do, we cannot hope to accomplish any meaningful change.
Many professionals in my industry live in major tech hubs such as Boston, New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle. However, my family and I chose to move to Providence, Rhode Island, because Providence is home to a vibrant, diverse community that believes in the power and potential of the solidarity economy.
The solidarity economy is an alternate social and economic development framework that prioritizes people and planet above private profits and corporate power. This framework is built on a series of core underlying principles:
- Solidarity and cooperation
- Equity in all dimensions, including race, ethnicity, gender, and class
- Social and economic democracy
- Putting people and the planet first
Economies are not natural phenomena; they are social constructs. As such, the solidarity economy aims to achieve systemic change across every dimension of our society. Far from a lofty, nebulous goal, the solidarity economy is already transforming how we live and work. Public banking and credit unions are becoming increasingly popular in light of the continued failures of the commercial banking system that threaten to plunge the world into a second Great Depression. Worker cooperatives and collective social enterprises are changing the ways in which we work, transferring power from unaccountable corporate executives to the workers who drive our economy. Alternate currencies (including decentralized cryptocurrencies) are challenging dominant, imbalanced models of distribution and exchange. Housing and consumer cooperatives and community land trusts are making housing and the use of public spaces more inclusive, affordable, and democratic.
All over Providence, local community leaders, entrepreneurs, and businesses are working together to challenge the failures of neoliberal capitalism by embracing the solidarity economy. That's why my family and I made our home here.
I want to work with companies that see the genuine value in developing software and products ethically. I want to work with companies that see their employees as human beings, not commodities. I want to help build brands that empower disenfranchised communities and tackle urgent social problems. A more ethical approach to technology and commerce isn’t just good for the planet and our communities—it’s good for business.
If you need an experienced creative strategist to help build a more ethical brand, we should talk.
Icon designed by Gregor Cresnar.