Tuesday, July 22, 2003

The (intellectually) rich get richer?? 

I was letting my mind free-wheel into the future, imagining where this brave new world of web-connectedness might take us. New, deeper, relationships; new undreamed of opportunities; an explosion of ideas. The vision was really appealing - positive, almost a new age of enlightenment - yet maybe more than a little utopian.

I also felt a hint of guilt that I have an opportunity to explore this new way of being whilst the vast majority of humanity doesn’t. A voice within says, shouldn’t I spend the time doing something to help those less fortunate? Idealistic perhaps, and hardly a novel thought, but a persistent one nonetheless.

It occurs to me that, in general, Bloggers are probably pretty near the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. To be sitting posting stuff on the web, the basic physical and safety needs will presumably have already been met. Its difficult to judge about the next level, the need for love, although that level is sometimes known as the need for affiliation - to belong - and in that sense bloggers may well be satisfying that need through blogging. Moving further up through Maslow’s hierarchy, whilst some posting may be driven by a need for esteem, a lot of what is posted seems to be at the level of self-actualisation. So driving forwards towards my brave new world seemed to be taking a rich-get-richer approach, where richness equates to the level in Maslow's hierarchy.

Some more recent additions have been made to Maslow’s original model which add a further level - transcendence - which is the need to help others achieve self-actualisation. Now, given that Maslow’s theory is that you can only achieve the higher levels once the lower levels have been fulfilled, that implies that transcendence is achieved by helping others move up the hierarchy of needs.

And that, I guess, is the source of my feeling of guilt. But maybe I should take heart - if Maslow (or those who developed his ideas further) got it right, I’m only going to achieve transcendence (as they term it) once I have achieved self-actualisation. So maybe its OK to dream of the new age of enlightenment…

(A bit like Jonathan Livingston Seagull I suppose).

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