Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Egotistic Actions Disguised as Altrustic: A Social Disaster

Two of the great movers in our world are egotistic and altruistic motives. You choose options that reinforce yourself or you choose options that reinforce your community. Although sometimes these motives are aligned to "right" and "wrong", the confusion between the two is more detrimental than if the action was embraced in its own pure nature (wholly altruistic or egotistic). 

Consider the recent ALS "ice bucket challenge."

While the result of this viral phenomena is a net-good for researching the cure to a costly disease, regular people (outside of the celebrity world, which the challenge is famous for) are artificially inflating their ego by performing a perceived altruistic action. 

The filming, the reaction, the sharing - these are all egotistic events that are disguised as net altruism. And while individually this is not a particularly life-changing event, as a community we are deceiving ourselves. At the end of it all, we felt like we've accomplished something. We raised $100 million dollars, but could we not have done more? Could we have done it without needing our own ego stroked? Individuals now feel accomplished - they will sit back and relax and do no more for too long. 

This was one of the first very viral social media charity successes to pervade our culture. And for decades before this many people have done no charity, and now they will use this passing moment to bathe themselves publicly in altruism, and privately (even subconciously) in their same old egotistical nonchalance.