Thursday, December 18, 2008

An Update to Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs

Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm sure I've spoken about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs before in this blog, but for those of you who do not know what it is, it's a, well, it's a hierarchy of needs that people need met to be well adjusted. The bottom level must be met before the level above it becomes important, and so on, essentially stating that we can't reach our full potential as self-actualized human beings until all of our lesser needs are met.

As you can see, the order of importance for needs is as follows:
  1. Physiological needs such as air, food, sleep, pooping, and sex must be met if we're to care about anything else. After all, if you're starving, are you really thinking about what's on friends tonight? No. That's why mice go for food on mouse traps. Risks to safety, priority 2, are outweighted by the need to eat.
  2. Saftey needs are the next to be met. We need shelter to make sleep more reliable, employment to ensure we are able to eat tomorrow.We need others to help watch over us as we sleep to keep us safe. Once immediate needs are met, we start to ensure that we'll be able to meet these physical needs in the foreseeable future.
  3. Now we need love and belonging. We have everything we need to survive. Now we need to ensure that we enjoy what we have. Beggers can't be choosers, but now that we've reached this level, we have what we need, we want it better. We want to like the people who look out for us and we want those providing sex to be people we can deal with when the sex part isn't happening.\
  4. Now that we're happy with everything around us, we have food, we have love, we need to be happy with ourselves.
  5. Finally, at the self-actualization stage, now that we like everything around us, we have to find something to keep us from being bored with how great things are, so we use our creativity, we are driven by the need to solve problems. Essentially, now that everything else is great, we need to have something to work on to, something to create or improve or we'll feel useless.
So what does this long mess of psychology have to do with anything? The team down at Sony has created, free of charge, something called Home for the Playstation 3. It's a virtual world in which people can, in theory, form deep connections and lasting friendships with those they play with online. However, according to one user, it seems like all anyone ever does in the virtual city is flirt and dance. When we look at the hierarchy of needs, the reason for this becomes glaringly apparant. At the physiological level, almost all needs are met by the very nature of the game. The in game avatars require no food or water and as such do not need to use the bathroom. Breathing is rarely an issue, and the same can be said for heat and cold, making homeostasis a non-issue as well. Characters simply aren't programmed to worry about these things. But what about sex? If it weren't important, why do designers program in both genders, particularly in rather attractive forms? The mind of the player still responds to the overt sexuality in the game while shrugging off the character's lack of need for food and sleep. As such, before people can make these deep meaningful online friendships they need online sex. Ok, the flirting is an attempt to replicate that. But what about the dancing?

It's a fact that almost every MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) has commands to make your character dance. Some online games are dedicated exclusively to dancing. Clearly this is some deep-seated need of the human condition. Dozens of movies are made about the need to dance: Flashdance, Footloose, Dirty Dancing, Take the Lead, Save the Last Dance, and that one scene from Hot Rod. Even in Jane Austen's book Pride and Predjudice, Mr. Darcy comments that "Every savage can dance."

Ok, so we all like to dance, but do we need to? After careful examination of Maslow's hierarchy, yes. Yes we do. You see, if we must flirt, if we must seek sex, even online, then we cannot do anything else online until we find said sex, hence the prevalence of porn on the internet. According to the hierarchy, we cannot seek lasting friendships until the potential to mate has been secured. Hence all the flirting online in chatrooms before anyone even considers having a real conversation. That being said, we wouldn't desire to dance until all physiological needs are met. A quick survey of these MMORPGs, however, reveals that we are clearly not meeting these needs. Therefore, if we must flirt AND dance, it can only mean that dancing is a physiological need on par with eating and breathing and needs to be added to the most fundemental level of human need. If we cannot dance, we cannot live. We can have no friends unless we dance first. We can have no job unless we dance first. We cannot respect ourselves unless we can dance. I believe no one has made the need to dance as clear as our good friends Men Without Hats.

Therefore, I shall wrap up this mini-thesis on the newly discovered importance of dancing to continued human existance with the following thought, before you can succeed any day of the week, after you wake up and have your breakfast but before you step out that front door, dance as if your life depends on it, because according to Maslow, it does.

You have been informed.

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