There’s a new editorial up today on Kotaku describing a man’s struggle with the disconnect between reality and the elaborate systems of extrinsic rewards we have used as the basis of so many things in our society. As Kotaku is a gaming news website, the role of video games in this process is of course mentioned.
I think most of us have had similar experiences of continual praise, though not necessarily as untempered by punishment and other negative early experiences. The effect on this man seems extreme, but mostly I think it’s amazing that he is aware of the process. That awareness is probably what’s rare, rather than the condition itself. Extrinsic motivators create a pervasive culture of delusion. They were a key component of the problems leading to the recent financial crises (and remain unchanged, so expect at least one more in the near future).
Embedded on the page of that editorial is one of the best commencement speeches I’ve ever seen, with a simple and laudable conclusion: rediscover intrinsic motivation. I’m embedding it below: