Living and thriving through regenerative practices and a sustainable worldview.

Posts tagged “abundance

Cutural Capital and Other Forms of Exchange

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the different forms of exchange available in the world.

There’s been a lot of noise about Bitcoin in the past year, and the weather is also getting warmer, which finds me at more swap meets, flea markets, etc. where I tend to barter.

But what has really been nagging at me is all the fuss that is always being generated from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. I started to think about all this fuss as capital.

It seems that a whole lot of people want it, which puts it into the realm of commodity, and any business who has ever looked to promote themselves knows that “buzz” is a form of exchange that converts into financial capital. Hell, Google’s building an empire based on Search Results, a form of this kind of capital. I am personally beginning to think that we could eradicate the national deficit if we were to tax all of the invisible, freely-given capital that we give to Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc. every day in the form of marketable demographic data and intelligence. But I digress.

What has been the most revealing to me, is how individuals are valuing their Facebook “share”. No, not the “Share” button, but actual share, as in, their slice of the Popularity Pie. People are crazy about this shit. Facebook “Likes”, have become a commodity, as people’s self-worth becomes attached to them. This has been steadily growing to the point that it is a widely accepted practice, and I recognize it as another form of social and cultural capital.

A friend recently forwarded the following link to a list I’m on, which started to take the conversation even deeper.

Scientists link selfies to Narcissism, Addiction & Mental illness

As I read, the following sentence jumped out at me:
“The more likes we get on social media sites the happier we feel. Is this sustainable?

Hmmm.
I realized that this concept goes back to another conversation I’ve been having in the general permaculture community, regarding economic permaculture initiatives.

If the structure or framework that we are working within is unsustainable (the global economy, perhaps capitalism, depends on your views) , then perhaps continuously trying to implement sustainable initiatives within a larger, unsustainable context is not the way to go. That’s like using “holistic” medicine for lung cancer, but still smoking…

I think it’s the same here, but it is within a cultural framework, rather than economic. Our general culture is unsustainable, hands down. It does not sustain or regenerate our emotional/spiritual/mental/physical/generational health. It has largely become saddled to the idea of profit/gain/resource hoarding. The hoarding of resources can include social “capital”, too (Facebook Friends, Likes, etc.).

It has been my understanding that MANY things can abstractly be considered social capital, or commodities. For example, just as Facebook friends can be thought of as a resource for the ego, gossip can also be considered a form of capital when it is exchanged between people and they receive some social/emotional benefit from it (profit).

The idea of being an “expert” or “know-it-all” in social circles, can also be a form of attempting to hoard or exude authority, which in turn, affects people’s social interactions and is a form of control (profit for the ego). Both of these require more and more information, and at some point it becomes unsustainable. It’s not a loop unless you’re going to gossip about yourself, which I’m betting won’t work very long. ;)

So, the way I see it, since our culture nurtures these behaviors through emphasis on media, ego, disconnection and polarization of views/”other-ness”, and rewards us for doing these things in the short term, we are left with what I think is the greatest re-skilling challenge of all: understanding, using, and developing tools of SELF, and also in/with our families/tribes/communities, to navigate the current culture and transform it into a sustainable/regenerative framework that promotes our health and well-being.

If we remove the need or pressure to stroke ourselves so much, then selfies will just feel pointless.

To me, it seems that it always goes back to Culture in the end. It’s the framework we all are trying to live within, since no man (or woman) is an island.

As if by fate, a few days later the following article tumbled into my Inbox and added another layer to the conversation.

8 Forms of Capital – Ethan Roland, Peak Prosperity Podcast

The section concerning cultural capital in regards to New Orleans and Japan during recent disasters is especially relevant to the discussion. I’ve often observed how Americans will pull together immediately after a disaster (Hurricane Sandy), and when there is a general time frame where things are expected to return to normal (Boston Marathon). However, when the effects of a disaster perpetuate indefinitely (poverty), or there is no help on the way (umm… poverty?), they are more apt to cannibalize each other in some form. It seems directly tied to the idea that we are living in a scarcity model, rather than an abundance model or something else, and I view this as cultural (the idea of “bigger, better, more”, “keeping up with the Jones’”, etc.).

How do we assess our cultural capital as a nation, a globally spreading cultural influence, a planet…?

How do we tie that capital to other forms of currency so that we are receiving regenerative returns in other areas and demonstrating a regenerative abundance model? (emotional, spiritual, social, etc.)