As a society, we’re obsessed with the idea of “adding value.” We’re constantly told that in order to be successful and fulfilled, we need to find ways to be more productive, more efficient, and more profitable. But what if this obsession with economic productivity is actually corrupting our sense of human worth?
It’s no surprise, then, that our culture’s emphasis on “adding value” has led to a situation where we only consider people in terms of their economic productivity. We’ve become so focused on the bottom line that we’ve lost sight of the fact that people have inherent worth, regardless of their ability to generate profits.
Think about it: when we talk about “adding value,” we’re usually talking about things like increasing profits, boosting productivity, or making a company more competitive. We rarely talk about adding value in a broader sense, such as by improving people’s quality of life, promoting social justice, or fostering creativity and innovation.
When we find out someone doesn’t work (either by choice or by chance), opinions about them might change.
Having lived in Dallas, I’ve seen firsthand how people are so eager to find out what you do so that they know how to feel towards you. (Isn’t that right, Jim? You were really ready to treat me like shit until our mutual friend slyly put you in check about who I am… AND THEN YOU SAID THE QUIET PART OUT LOUD AND ADMITTED THAT YOU WERE READY TO NOT THINK MUCH OF ME, YOU DUMB IDIOT.)
This narrow definition of value is harmful in many ways. It leads to a society where people are judged solely on their ability to generate wealth, rather than on their character, their talents, or their contributions to their communities. It creates a culture of overwork and stress, where people are pushed to work harder and longer hours in order to meet unrealistic targets and deadlines. And it undermines our sense of human connection and community, by reducing everything to a transactional relationship.
So what can we do about this?
One approach is to start valuing people for who they are, rather than just what they can produce. We can focus on building strong communities and nurturing relationships, rather than just chasing after profits. We can support policies that prioritize the well-being of all people, rather than just the interests of the wealthy and powerful.
In short, we can start to redefine what it means to “add value,” and begin to see people as more than just economic units. By doing so, we can create a society that is more just, more fulfilling, and more truly human.
I might end up writing more about the nature of transactional relationships, so check back soon… bookmark this page, set a reminder to come back to this website, whatever you have to do.
In the meantime, let me know what you think: