Voice vs exit

Through this post on YC I found this talk from Balaji Srinivasan called “voice vs exit”. It’s only 16 minutes long and really recommended, especially if you plan on reading the next few paragraphs.

I really liked the first part of the talk where he talk about how to have the most impact. You will most likely accomplish more if you exit. It’s much easier to change things when you’re in control, similar to how one should sell directly to customers rather than “that one big distribution deal”. In theory large groups mean you can more easily multiply your effect, but in practice this is never the case and it’s a better bet to go direct on your own.

I struggle more with he second part on how to exit just about every part of society. I get how the principle applies more broadly, but I wonder what happens to the rest of society if such exits are successful. Will successful products and services replace existing infrastructure for everyone, or will society increasingly separate into multiple groups?

The talk was held in 2013, and I would argue that the latter has started to happen since. Polarization has been increasing on many levels, and one reason is the gap between exiters and the rest. This leaves me wondering what the right balance is.

We need people to exit for new products and services to be built, but at the same time successful exits should be distributed broadly for maximum impact and minimum conflict. We have solved the first (but maybe built the wrong products?), but the second remains.