I actually wrote this piece for my personal blog “On the Road to Your Perfect World”
a couple weeks ago. But with the meltdown of Charlie Sheen and the never-ending media bombardment, I thought maybe I should post it here. It really doesn’t have much to do with printing...but it has to do with everything else.
A couple weeks ago, I commented on a provocative blog post by my friend Greg Rader, “The Future of Status - Conspicuous Production.”
Here is that comment:Imagine if there was no money and no things to buy. How would you show the world your worth? Or how would you show yourself?
Would your value lie in the number of friends you have—physical or electronic? Would it lie in the quality and depth or your relationships with these friends (kind of three-dimensional assessment)? Maybe it would lie in the number pieces of art you produced, or books and articles you’ve written.
Or better yet...what about the number of karma points you’ve accumulated by doing random acts of good? Haven’t we reached a point on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs where we can at least flirt with self actualization?
Over your last couple posts, I think you’ve been leading us to this, Greg. It’s obvious, the standard societal measurement of wealth and worth just isn’t cutting it for you. I join you brother.
Maybe this is the first step—discontent. Only then can we find our own “store of value.” and, from there, truly maximize it’s worth. Maybe this is what I mean when I talk about “On the Road to Your Perfect World.” Thanks for pointing me the way :)
I viewed the focus of Greg’s piece as: “Isn’t there a way of presenting our value to the world other than just through the money we make and our consumption habits?” As you can tell from my comment above, it’s a topic that's been on my mind also.
Recently, in light of the sky-high valuations of several Dotcom 2.0 stocks, such as Facebook, Groupon and Twitter, this matter seems to be especially relevant. Recent investments have Facebook worth $52 billion and Twitter at $10 billion, while Groupon turned down a $6 billion offer from Google.
But I ask you...on what are the values based. In the case of the first two, it’s their ability to act as advertising platforms. And Groupon is worth what it can take as a cut of the pie. Isn’t there more though? More than just money and advertising, more than just a vehicle to accommodate more and more consumption. God I hope so.
Let’s put Groupon aside, it is what it is—a group buying coupon service...nothing more, nothing less. Eventually, it will fall prey to another “new and improved” version of the same.
But Facebook and Twitter are different. To label them as just advertising platforms is to vastly understate what they really are—what they’re really worth. One needs to look no further back than one month. Only 30 days ago, the political environment in the Middle East was much the same as it’s been for the last 30 years. No longer. Tunisia is liberated. Egypt is liberated. Libya will probably follow, and whoever is next is anyone’s guess.
While Facebook and Twitter didn’t overthrow these dictatorships, they played an integral role. They facilitated strategic and tactical communication that was on the level of a sophisticated military sorte, only performed primarily by young civilians. These social networks provided something that wasn’t there before—coordination. The results to this point have been the liberation tens of billions of dollars and tens of million people, people who now have the prospect of governing themselves and having a say in their future. What’s that worth?
How can you put a monetary value on person's freedom? How can you say in dollars and cents what it's worth to know you have something to get up for in the morning, to know that just maybe your children might just have a better life than you ... a life you could only dream of.
Why does everything have to be based on money and what we spend it on. Just because you drive a Mercedes 450SL and I drive a Ford Taurus, does that make you worth more than me. I could make a case on the contrary.
We focus so much on our children making sure they go to college and get a job that pays a lot of money. How many us even discuss any other options—any other means of worth? This valuation system seems Neanderthal in the light of what’s happening in the world these days.
I have been there and done it. I've had the nice car, the apartment on the water, the original art on walls. But it sure wasn’t “the be all, end all.” The car’s gone, the apartment gone and my daughter has the art. The memories are good, but now it’s time to move on.
It’s like the pursuit of possessions had put me in a cloud. I had other pursuits, but the almighty dollar reigned supreme. No longer.
My valuation lies not in my financial net worth, but rather in what Greg calls “my conspicuous production” and what results from it. Production can be anything. It could be this blog post. It could be the comments that result from it. And as I said in my comment above, it could be in the karma points I accumulate by doing good things. So here it is, here is my definition of “my value:”My value is the sum total of all positive synaptic connections I have a role in creating, both in myself and in others. In other words, the more I can get people thinking in ways they wouldn’t otherwise think in—and correspondingly act in ways that benefit themselves and others—the more I’m worth.
There you have it.
Now it’s time to pick up my hands...my knuckles are bloody. Maybe you should do the same.If you're interested, there’s more of this type of stuff on my blog “On the Road to Your Perfect World.”