Living in the digital age affords us powerfully convenient means to spend money shopping, indulge ourselves with lavish live and on-demand entertainment, pay bills, manage correspondence online, and, if we’re lucky, even secure gainful employment while working from home.
Ultimately of course, such a bounty of options and conveniences comes at a price. Working and saving to afford the latest media devices and tech toys pressures us to gain maximum value from them before they are rendered obsolete by the latest upgrade. “Easy-to-use” often leads to the concept of “dispose and replace” as it becomes more and more difficult to own things that we can fix ourselves or customize if something is lacking.
A fundamental cause of economic turmoil in our world is rooted in our confusion over how best to place proper value and worth on the things we have, the things we do, the things we work for, the things (and moments) we share.
One of the challenges I faced when traveling overseas for the first time was figuring out the exchange rates for different countries. The first thing I would do was buy a cup of coffee and a snack and pay for it with the local currency. Rather than obsess over how many francs, kroners, pesetas, etc. equalled an American dollar (yes this was 1990s pre-euro) I would think in terms of how much “coffee cash” things cost as I ventured out sightseeing, dining and drinking, and shopping.
These days we have frequent flier miles, hotel loyalty points, and elaborate coupon/discount schemes to leverage our purchasing power… and, bitcoins! Bitcoins are those units of imaginary digital currency used in video games to unlock extra levels, power-ups, customizations for racecars and starship fighters, etc. But apparently bitcoins are also part of a very real potentially robust digital economy as evidenced by the story of a Norwegian man with a forgotten savings account of bitcoins that eventually led to payment of his rent!
Eventually, our society will have to come up with better ways to assess how we value things in our world. Perhaps we must re-evaluate the very nature of work and/or commerce itself or confront our own demise. We’ve known it all along as those immortal cartoon legends Rocky J Squirrel and Bullwinkle Moose found out in *Box Top Robbery Part 1!