Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Hoard Mentality

My friend Sam and I often discuss, argue, and validate various random concepts. I find that talking to someone different from me often inspires more interesting and valuable conclusions.

Recently we discussed the often prevalent and usually innate human need to hoard possessions. This emotional drive probably comes from various evolutionary influences - i.e. those humans who collected and saved their food or their tools managed to survive longer. This need manifests itself through many different ways in our society. Sometimes we accumulate truly valuable things like gold, jewelry, real estate, etc. Often we hoard questionably-valuable items like stocks, baseball cards, Beanie Babies, etc.

The hoarding reflex can get us in trouble. It leads to emotional bursts of overvaluation and unrealistic expectations. The hoarding need is quite possibly a contributing reason for stock bubbles, real estate bubbles, and just absurd materialistic trends - such as Beanie Babies selling for thousands of dollars.

I believe that the hoarding reflex is also a major contributor to the profound success of social networking. Websites like LinkedIn, MySpace, and Facebook allow us to easily hoard co-workers, sales leads, acquaintances, and friends. These websites let us neatly and visually quantify all the people we've collected in life. These modern tools make us feel close to a wide network of individuals and allow us to constantly grow our social stockpiles.

Are we creating unrealistic expectations of the human hoards we've accumulated and the tools that enable this collection process?


Post a Comment