Every so often I stand back astonished at the technological advances we have made as a species. Most of the stuff we are using in our day to day did not even exist a short time ago. Each concept that drives technology forward can be linked to a basic need or desire. Take our smart phones for instance. They are our most recent answer to communication and overcoming the inconvenience of distance when connection is desired. They do so much more than simply connect us to each other, but one can easily argue that the desire we have as social creatures to communicate with one another is the primary reason for their success. Through out time we see that successful devices fill a niche, and this niche is always thought to bring us closer to our goals. In time they are tweaked and fine tuned to deliver in ways we deem indispensable. Successive technological breakthroughs are made, and we delve deeper down the rabbit hole after…something.
This happens over and over again. I suppose it will continue beyond anything we could possibly imagine today. Sometimes I find myself daydreaming about how amazing it would be to see time unfold over the decades, centuries, millennia and eventually eons- to be able to see time unfolding just like time lapse photography. Then I remember the atrocious recurring events that pepper mankind’s historical landscape; we have politically charged conflicts, we wage wars, we have the mass oppression of the weak and disenfranchised, we have slavery, we have criminal enterprises and organized crime, we have mass murder; we have such a wide range of ways in which we cause the suffering and pain of our fellow man.
The answer must be somewhere in our basic psychological drives. After all, we wouldn’t lift a finger unless our minds were motivated to do so. So how does a person become motivated to take part in the horrors I’ve listed above? There are many theories that speculate as to the basic psychological drives that motivate us all. One thing is clear- we all have a feeling nature that tends to moves us toward our pleasures and away from our pains. Our psychology is motivated by this feeling nature, whether we are aware of it or not. But what is it exactly that we are moving toward?
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review. Maslow subsequently extended the idea to include his observations of humans’ innate curiosity. His theories parallel many other theories of human developmental psychology some of which focus on describing the stages of growth in humans. Maslow used the terms “physiological”, “safety”, “belongingness” and “love”, “esteem”, “self-actualization” and “self-transcendence” to describe the pattern that human motivations generally move through.
I particularly like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, they go through a very logical and sound progression. First we have “physiological”, which is our desire to be healthy and happy and free of pain. I’m totally with it. Next we see “safety”, free from danger– check! Now for number three he has “belongingness”: we all want to belong (if you say no I send you a virtual hug!). Number four is “Love”, definitely.. but I’m not so sure if it should be number four, but I’m not a psychologist just a professional thinker. Ok, 5 is “esteem”, and I get it, we all want to be respected to some degree. “Self Actualization” is good stuff if we are blessed enough to get there.. Finally we have “self-transcendence”, the rising above oneself and transcending boundaries set by the ego.
None of these things on there own could possibly have caused the pandemic of suffering and pain that has scarred our global consciousness, or could it? The answer is a simple yes, and no. It takes an outside influence to excite us into dramatic action. We can be convinced by an outside influence to pursue or protect one or more of these needs. This trick of manipulation is rooted in the knowledge of the human fight or flight response. Often we get our cues from our direct experiential data as it cascades within through our five senses; but sometimes we allow outside information from secondhand sources to motivate us. The greater our trust in that outside source the more likely we are to believe the line of reasoning we are given. From our older brothers and sisters all the way up to mass media and government we are told “how the world works”, and this worldview shapes how we feel we must pursue or protect our needs. We are after all in the ‘pursuit of happiness’.
You see, our technology is always connected to one of our most basic and instinctive drives. Every great movement, that solidifies the wills of men and women, does so at the base level. Somewhere deep down in the psychological soup that is the mind we are moved and motivated. We are much less complicated than we tend to THINK, and thats the crux of our dilemma; the cleverness of the mind. We all basically motivated in the same primary ways. We are all psychologically moved by an emotion that demands action. We look to that fleshy reasoning mass between our ears for direction. Unfortunately, it can reason out any possible direction if given a good enough reason to do so, and we are given some very convincing reasons from those outside influences I mentioned earlier. How we think is infinitely variable. Our thinking capability is where the deception occurs that allows us to cause the pain and suffering that is typical in modern day civilizations.
With technology bridging the gap so quickly we are able to disseminate information more and more rapidly. I believe it is imperative we continue to share our feelings and thoughts so that we can directly connect with each other and bypass the unverifiable second hand sources of ‘information’. Understanding the cleverness of the mind to construct complex lines of reasoning in order to justify horrific action is exactly how wars are waged and mass murder is committed. Knowing puts the manipulator in the position to motivate the masses, and it only works if the masses are unaware. Now you know. You are not unaware. Spread the word and take back control.
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