Saturday, 26 February 2011

Money and motivation

I've written on this before. Money in itself is not a motivator, becuse it is only a means to an end, except that perhaps it has acquired a value of its own as we like to see it in our wallets and bank accounts. If we have enough of it we feel more secure and more content.

This contentment, though, is only there because deep down we know that money will get us the things we need and want (given that those things exist and can be provided to us).

So it is having, or potentially having, the things we need and want that motivates us. Now, however rich or poor we are, we get 168 hours a week. Lets say we spend a quarter (42) of those sleeping, that leaves us 126 hours for non sleeping activity. Apart from work, we in the developed world can spend these entertaining ourselves, learning, exercising, being with others, etc.

There is far more than 126 hours per week of entertainment available when we combine online and on air entertainment, let alone what we have stored locally on our computers, optical disks and other storage. What we seem to desire here is choice - the idea that if we want to listen to (say) Simon Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic playing Ligeti, we can, because we have a CD of it (somewhere ...). In an RBE we wouldn't need to have this stored locally,  we'd just search for it on line and stream it, but in our current set up, the idea of choice seems to be linked to having possession of a physical thing.

The richer we are the more physical things we have, and the less time we can spend deriving any pleasure directly from each of them. We can derive pleasure form having the option of using them and we can derive pleasure, perhaps, from abstract possession, devoid of any utility.

With technology we can decouple having choice from having personal control over (possession) of a physical thing to a very large extent. The need to physically possess something is odd, though. It needs to be stored (allocated space) such that it can be conveniently retrieved, and secured appropriately to its value.

I'm going to back track in this thought process. It started from the widely held view that money stops being a motivator once you have enough of it. I've already explained why the money itself is not really a motivator at all, but only goods and services. There must be a stage beyond which someone has more choice than they can cope with. Enough CDs to listen to 24/7 till they die, along enough TV channels to watch continuously till the same fate befalls them, plus books to read, cars to drive, hobbies to indulge in.

No comments:

Post a Comment