Motivation through time and place

The industrial revolution was a huge social game changer. It legitimized the usage of property for relocating oneself to anther (hopefully higher) social grope. Some might argue that this is the birth point of motivation: the ability to self-project into different life is no longer a delusion – it is motivation. Ever sins, institutions in which social transformation is impossible, freedom less systems, are progressively shrinking, slowly being replaced by choice allowing structures and organizations.

In order to define freedom within a system we turned to Albert Otto Hirschman, analyses “Exit, Voice and Loyalty”. His work examines the behavior of an individual or a grope within a system in decline. In his book, Hirschman states the three cores of action in the boat is sinking:

1- Exit: leave. A principal that corresponds the “invisible hand” theory by Adam Smith.

2- Voice: Speak-up, revolt, change, regroup, reorganize, revolutionize etc.

3- Loyalty: stay put except the upcoming doom out of patriotism to the system.

In other words, these options are synonyms to change our selves, change our environment and ignore.

The evolution of modern media in the second half of the last century had a strong impact on the way these choices are being distributed. Knowledge of what happen outside of the system in question is much more accessible. There-for outer criticism is heard more often, undermining the loyalty element. At the same tame, the voice element has grown much stronger due to the increasing accessibility to means of communication. In other words, it is harder to be fool by the system and easier to change. However are those circumstances are enough to create motivation?

If it is, then the bigger presence that media has in our lives, the stronger our motivations should be.

In his book, “the presentation of self in every day life”, Erving Goffman, compares social situations to theater scenes and people to actors. In his work, that got him the status of the most influential sociologist of the century, Goffman proclaims that our lives are composed of different sciences (home, work, school etc.) in which we, the actors take different roles (father, worker, principal etc.). Unlike in theatres all actors are simultaneously spectators. This ambivalent position affects the “act” of every one in every day life and they’re for the scene itself. However, like actors on stage we use the ever-changing props costumes and stages to keep coherent with our viewers. Moreover, very similarly to theatre characters, our act is driven our motivation: will to control and fear of embarrassment.

At the dawn of the 21st century, we find ourselves interacting on a new social stage: the Internet in general and social networks in particular. As often said in crime television series: “Same game, different rules”.

On this new stage the actor have total control of his image. He present himself as he will and when and to whom he whishes for. The usage of the World Wide Web at the same time is often conducted from home. The experience is literally being at 2 places at the same time: physically, at the safety and privacy of home and mentally, on a different social stage (while according to Goffman, these are 2 totally different settings). The increasing user-friendliness of computers, programmers and smartphones crates the illusion of control, which is easier with a machine then in a room fool of people. The accessibility of knowledge is another factor that strongly reinforces the actor’s confidence. As we all know, “knowledge is power” and while acting on the social-network-stage facts and data can be collected to support claimes and make them more coherent. This change has an enormous effect on the actor’s sense of embarrassment and as a result, his courage, his curiosity and limits changes as well.

On the other side of the coin, the actor, being also a spectator has his perception completely conditioned to the other actors “improved” ability to act. We can probably believe Wikipedia when it tells as that Sir Whinstone Churchill’s middle names were Leonard Spenser, however there is no sure way to differ facts from falls on the Internet. With all of the advantages of the social-network-Stage mentioned above, we become super-actors. We are so great (or believe ourselves to be so) on that we neglect our acting skills on other stages. While “today, everything could be done through the internet” what could motivate as to do it elsewhere?

In conclusion, as modern society marches forward our voices as individuals are growing stronger, there for, media is taking a progressively growing place in our lives. From the motivationally aspect evolutions have ambivalent values: as a tool it can enhance personal motivation however, as a stage it corrupts it.


Delgado Etienne, Galron Omri, Terrade Geoffrey


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