Motivation and social validation


I’ve been thinking a great deal about motivation this weekend how it ties into the questions we’ve been asking about productivity and purpose, creativity and building a body of work that lasts.

Motivation is a tremendous force. It’s the reason we do things.The source of compulsion, the origination of purpose, the impetus.

Next to language, I would argue that it’s the most significant thing that shapes us. On some level it’s why we communicate, reach out, connect, create, take short cuts, go the long way, build something lasting or temporary, make something useful or superficial. It’s the invisible, forceful magic that moves us to make or make new, to conceive or re-conceive, to make love or make war, to ask and to answer.

And when it comes to exploring the question of what it means to make a creative life now, we must inevitably dive into the question every advertiser and psychologist and teacher, leader and preacher, and rabbi and rebel asks:

What motivates us?

What motivates us particularly to do the work of making a creative life one in which we both make a mark on the world, and are marked by it; inspired and inspiring; filled with wonder, and creators of wonder?

What I’m particularly curious about, is how the digital landscape and social networks in particular amplify certain motivations, and create powerful feedback loops of social validation that make us feel creative even when we’re only re-sharing, repinning or remixing the original creative work of someone else.

“Not caring what people think cuts you off from connection. Being defined by what they think cuts you off from creativity.”

~ Brene Brown

To understand social networks affect our motivation and in turn our creativity. I’ve been going back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Creativity is at the tip top of the pyramid: driven by a motive for self actualization. 
But below that, are other needs that must be met first: particularly love and belonging, and esteem.

I’m wondering if the increase in all our social participation online which has also resulted in a decrease in face-to-face engagement within our communities offline points to a widening unmet cultural need for esteem, love, and belonging?

We’re addicted, almost, to social validation online. It’s incredibly rewarding, and the reward motivates us to seek more in turn. Why is social validation such a powerful trigger for us culturally right now?

Arguably, we’ve always been motivated by social validation by the esteem of others but immediate our access to it has been radically altered by technology. Is it is simple as that? Or is there a swelling unmet need for connection, real, and earnest and lasting the touch of each other’s hands, the breaking and sharing of real bread that in it’s absence creates an ever increasing desire for the instantaneous and perpetual validation of our friends, followers and circles online?

I’d love to know what you think drives us to seek social validation online, and how does this hunger inspire or hinder our creative work over time?

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  • God has blessed me with creativity since birth. In my 55 years, ive strived to keep my income from various art jobs. Ive watched social media and advertising swallow up true creativity and motivation. New ideas are not appreciated, but stealing others is. My bosses hired artists to build their ideas, and rain in and crush the spirit of creativity that only comes from within. I have no Facebook. The pace of work I do now is exhausting and non-Gratifying. My beliefs cross with what I do at times. I’m a fine artist who gives up paid days from work sometimes, to paint and keep my sanity. Those at work spend too much time communicating in a false world to feel good and connected. I see their addiction, but they never call anyone to hear their voice, even to their kids. Creativity is dying, one posting at a time.

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