Is it worth it?

We must regain our sense of true worth. We must break our addiction to the brands that slyly tell us that, whatever the cost to the Earth, we’re worth it, to just do it. We must ask far more now: Is it worth it? We must learn to wait, to be patient, so that we can consume less and enjoy more.

We must regain our sense of true value. The cheap, free, convenience-driven tech world has stripped us of our connection to value, worth and costs. Technology has become a crutch that has disabled us, disconnected us from the Earth, from Nature, from each other. It doesn’t have to be this way. Technology can be used to truly connect us to the Earth, but we have let it become the domain of the tech oligarchs; those obsessed with growth at all costs, those obsessed with the most rapid accumulation of wealth and power and growth, growth, growth.

The challenge we must rise to is one of moving from a culture of short-term thinking obsessed with selling superficial wants, to a culture of long-term thinking focused on solving deep needs. Can we rise to this challenge? We must try.

When I was younger, I was an obsessive music fan. I worked my way through college and money was scarce. I would travel to Moore Street in Dublin, where the cheapest food shops were, so that I would have enough to buy the music records I needed. When I got a new record, I was likely to play it for seven or eight hours straight. Music was incredibly precious to me and I valued it and was willing to pay for it.

I used to work in German factories and building sites during the summer and I’d save everything I could. One time I arrived back in Dublin and the first thing I did was spend most of my savings (that I needed to pay rent and buy food) on a fancy speaker system. I didn’t regret it. It’s one of the best feelings in the world to pay for something you truly value and get huge enjoyment from.

I watched in horror as Spotify and all the other parasites got super rich as musicians got poorer and poorer. Someone said to me that Spotify pay peanuts. Do they? I bought a pack of peanuts and counted them. Each peanut cost about one cent. The figures I see from Spotify and others that musicians get about 0.4 of a cent per stream. (And that needs to be shared among a group.) So, Spotify don’t even pay peanuts.

All the wealth, all the progress, all the innovation, and we’re creating a world of such incredible inequality. We’re cheapening everything. We’ve lost our sense of worth. It’s so easy to trash what’s essentially worthless, or so cheap it’s hardly worth thinking about.

A new way, a new approach begins by asking, Is it worth it? By thinking deeply about what we value, what we think is precious and worthwhile and by paying for it, by valuing it.

I buy my music still, if possible, from the artist’s website. Convenience is such a cheap excuse. Is that all we are? Is that all we’re worth? Let’s pay a decent amount for the things we truly need and love.

Podcast: World Wide Waste
Interviews with prominent thinkers outlining what can be done to make digital as sustainable as possible.
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