August 2, 2006
News & Opinion: Get Back In The Box - People Need People
This is the third post in a series on Doug Rushkoff's Get Box In The Box.
Rushkoff's next theme is the concept of Social Currency. This is his way of talking about word-of-mouth and comes at it from the authentic angle.
People don't engage with each other in order to exchange viruses; people exchange viruses as an excuse to engage with each other. Media viruses, and their massive promotional capability, are all dependent on the newfound collective spirit of our age and the increasing need for social currency that has resulted. It's not about convincing a few key individuals to sell products; its about creating products that provide everyone the currency they need to forge new social connections. Sure, if we analyze the movement of an idea across the community, we'll be able, retroactively, to determine which individuals gave it the most word of mouth.
If we want to understand or even replicate this effect, however, we must instead learn to see people not as individuals looking for power or social status, but as parts of a group looking for cohesion...That's why, in spite of growing fears that we are living in a materialistic society, social currency almost always wins out over pure ownership as a motivator for buying.
I like Rushkoff's confirmation of what I and many other already believe. People need people and with our basic needs met long ago, we now look for ways to connect in a Bowling Alone kind of world.