University deadlines, group meetings, work commitments, moving to a new apartment, building furniture to name but a few. I would have to say this week has been my busiest since joining the Master of Marketing. It took a whole week without any Internet connection in my new apartment to realise just how important a commodity it is to my daily life.
The Internet meme of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs with ‘WIFI’ scrawled underneath the base came to mind on many occasions as I pondered life after the Internet. No Facebook, No Instagram, No Podcasts, No Skype and No Blackboard for my assignments - nothing, nada, zip!
After a whole week of thinking time without the Internet, here are my two thoughts I would like to share.
Firstly, have our basic needs changed? We will always require the physiological needs of food, water, shelter and warmth, as these are all basic functions of the body. So where does Internet fit in to the picture? It has become a commodity I now regard a utility in the same way I would electricity or gas, and without it, my life becomes infinitely more difficult to navigate.
I don’t believe it is a basic need or a desire to be safe and secure in the knowledge that the basic needs will be fulfilled in the future. But for me personally, having Internet access unquestionably plays a role in every other category. Tools such as video chat with family and friends can certainly fulfil a sense of belonging and love. The next stage of the hierarchy is all about social recognition, which could be argued, is one of the key drivers of Facebook. The final stage at the top of the triangle is self-actualization, which is a sense of fulfilment. This means that you are doing on the planet what you are meant to do, to ultimately be happy in life. Without Google, how can I search for what I am meant to do in my life? If like me you can remember life before Google, you will know just how hard it was to find information.
My second thought was about Maslow and his theory of motivation. I remember having just started high school when I was first introduced to this mysterious pyramid of human needs, yet today, as I study at Masters level I am still looking at the same pyramid. I think that is testament to the strong influence that a 70-year-old theory still has on the world. As a marketer, one of the insights I have gained is how we can shape the conditions that create peoples' aspirations. The model proposed by Maslow is able to explain this very complicated idea in a very simple way. In the years since it was first published, the Maslow triangle has been flipped upside down, pulled apart, chopped up into numerous diagrams, but again still remains today in many textbooks as it did in 1943.
So as much as my life wouldn’t be complete without the Internet, my understanding of human behaviour wouldn’t be the same without Maslow and his hierarchy of needs.
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School