What is Digital Veganism? Cody Brown Explains His Catchphrase

“Magnificent coinage from @CodyBrown: ‘digitalvegetarianism,‘” Jeff Jarvis tweeted recently. If you Googled, you might have thought he was referring to the L.A.-based lifestyle blog and SEO experiment, but actually Mr. Jarvis just got it wrong. The “coinage” is digital veganism, a phrase start-up founder and recent NYU grad Cody Brown has been slinging around since even before his roommate quit Facebook and Twitter in a public huff.

We had heard Mr. Brown refer to the open source, decentralized anti-Facebook Diaspora as “digital veganism” before. But what does it mean? We asked him to explain.

“I see it as sort of a recurring decorum when I talk to people about the internet,” he said. “And the decorum strikes me as similar to the kind of conversations I have when I talk to people who are vegan. In many ways veganism is about rejection of certain things. It’s saying I can’t do this, I can’t participate in this because it’s about giving someone power or communicating something you think is unethical. And all of those are totally valid arguments from people they can make in whatever way they want. But it became a kind of lifestyle when it’s dropped in the way of saying, ‘I’m not on Facebook. I don’t contribute to closed platforms like Facebook.'”

“I’m not saying there is anything wrong with being a vegan or being a digital vegan. But it’s just funny that it’s sort of reinventing itself in this,” he said. No one has proved that open systems are philosophically better, he said.

The issue caused friction when his roommate Daniel Bachhuber, until then a prolific social media user, quit Facebook and Twitter on grounds that “open systems need more of my attention, and it’s time to vote with my feet.”

“I would get into great fights with him about this,” Mr. Brown said. “Him not being on Twitter was causing problems. Because I’d be like, ‘Danny, did you see that shit that blew up on Twitter today’ and he’s like, ‘uh.’ Eventually he came back.”

Mr. Bachhuber returned to Twitter and Facebook at the end of March, when “pragmatism won out over idealism.” “WELCOME BACK,” Mr. Brown said.

What is Digital Veganism? Cody Brown Explains His Catchphrase