Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A New Global Dream...

You see it everywhere – the ads telling you to read on to get rich. Click here to find out how you can get rich working from home, get rich secrets of the super rich, Richie Rich’s Quickest Way to Get Rich Quicker Than the Next Guy…etc…

In the boom of the industrial age, it’s fair to argue that perhaps this was the American Dream and in some developing nations, people are struggling to gain a shred of that dream as they see it through the lens of popular mass media. Was this a carefully crafted construct of the media elite to promote conspicuous consumption of goods and services beyond any real human need? Or is this an innate human need to not only keep up with the Joneses but do better than them – some primal animal instinct, like a human version of the biggest, brightest plumage or the loudest mating call. I think the argument could be made that it’s a hybrid of both – cultural learning and species/lineage propagation that leads humans to want/need to acquire beyond any rational true needs.

Granted, financial independence would be nice to have. What would you do with the freedom that could bring? Travel? Get that vacation home on the beach? Send your kids to the best schools money can buy? Build a McMansion with a 5 car-garage stuffed with cars that cost as much as most folks’ condos? I believe this last ‘dream’ is becoming a thing of the past. As we as a species become more aware of our precarious position on this beautiful planet, we know that dreams founded on conspicuous consumption are simply not sustainable. And if we as individual consumers have any semblance of selflessness or benevolence, we would already have dreams that are less focused on material wealth and possessions and more focused on the experiences and the freedom to make a difference.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a capitalist through and through. And I also am a true proponent of a system built on meritocracy. However, as we move from the rusted over-indulgence of the industrial age, to one built on information and technology, I think our dreams, goals and ambitions are shifting to less material and selfish, to more experiential, humane and sustainable. Call me an optimist.

With this shift, I see a world of minimalism and distilled experiences that heighten the now. Products and services that cater to getting more out of the present with less are going to be the big winners – think modern, pure, minimal, seamless, empowering and sustainable.

Materialism will become a dirty word. We’re already seeing evidence of that with the current economic crises around the planet. The super rich aren’t advertising as much with their overt displays of wealth. Not too long ago I submitted a script idea for a new investigative journalism program called ‘Carbon Footprints of the Rich and Famous”. I think it was ahead of its time. How many super rich have multiple homes, with massive strains on resources just to keep the grounds watered and the internal humidity in check? It’s a crime against this planet and their fellow human beings – several of whom are funding their extravagance by purchasing their albums, seeing their movies and buying their products. I think we need to bring it all down to Earth and not to pick on those fortunate ones of material fortune, but to show the audience that the real dream should be to still have a beautiful, blue planet for our children and the generations of the future.

A guy can dream...

This post was inspired by:

The Meaning Organization
Traditional businesses are struggling to recover from the economic downturn. They'll need to shift their focus from profits to authentic social engagement to have meaningful impact in the world.
By Umair Haque

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