I believe it was Cheap Trick that had the song with the lyric, “Surrender, but don’t give yourself away” but it seems like that is exactly what is happening as Facebook is going forward in its plans to create its own cryptocurrency for use across its platform and other partner platforms. While we are invited to surrender to a world of convenience and security we also seem to be on the brink of giving too much away. With the creation of a stand-alone currency seems to be running the risk of starting a stand-alone economy. With the global online economy now running almost seven trillion dollars imagine the power that a corporation could wield in world politics. With a current value of almost 2.3 billion, they could become powerful enough to begin to dictate financial policy in the same way Walmart dictates when it will receive certain merchandise to its loading dock. While we have seen the effective ways that savings and loans can regulate themselves into a $160 Billion dollar bailout, and later banks almost bankrupted the economy only to get a $700 billion bailout, what could possibly go wrong with a single industry dominating online currency and online transactions? Let us embrace our inner Alfred E Neuman- why worry? A rising economy lifts all boats even at the cost of flooding the low lying ports. So sit back, relax and enjoy the ever warming bathwater.
In my wild years it seemed like a good idea to study Economics. Needless to say this passion passed to less lucrative field, thought the ramifications of economic thought still crosses my mind. This happened recently when thinking of social media and the wealth of data that floods our consciousness every moment. It seems that these two ideas, social media and economic theory, are coming out of opposite corners in regard to our ideas of value and worth. Our economy teaches us to value things that are scarce- scarcity equals value but the idea of social media is completely opposite, excess is valued, how much quality content can you post. While these Janus faced concepts seem define our world and our relationship to it, it seems that we never stop to think about the ramifications of these ideas. People are confounded by the reality of social media, that the more quality content the better- where is the scarcity, where is the value? How is it that the scarcity we have valued has now, through the new social media, become of the least value. A Facebook page with little or no content wild fade into obscurity while one with a solid supply of quality posts will find an audience. Like content, we have so many people in the world we seem to take them as an exhaustible, expendable resource. When Chairman Mao was faced with the possibility of an atomic bomb being dropped on China he reportedly responded saying ” China has many people. They cannot be bombed out of existence. …….. The death of ten or twenty million people is nothing to be afraid of.” The most precious thing we have, our time on this earth we seem not to appreciate until we find ourselves confronted with the end of it.
We can only hope that in this time of readjusting ideas of worth and value we may take the lead from this new computer paradigm, that there is value in number and discover the value of the many and concern ourselves only with the scarcity of gratitude in our bounty.