The Better Part of Valor: Meeting Current Human Needs Online without Compromising Future Selves

The Better Part of Valor: Meeting Current Human Needs Online without Compromising Future Selves

Shalin Hai-Jew (Kansas State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0891-7.ch010
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Abstract

The pervasiveness of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) in the modern world makes it near impossible to conduct the living of daily life without these technologies. People go online to meet a variety of human needs—for work, shopping, security, socializing and intercommunications, self-worth, entertainment, and personal life goals. In the framework of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, online spaces often provide for the meeting of physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization, and yet, their every action, search, information sharing, social interchange, and digital thought is recorded into digital perpetuity. Law enforcement has tools to profile and track individuals in the Web?sphere and even deep into the Invisible or Hidden Web. This chapter explores how people may meet their many current human needs in the present without shortchanging their options for the future. In particular, the human rights risks that are discussed include security and well-being, privacy, reputation (freedom from defamation), and the flexibility of future choices.
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Introduction

“The better part of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have saved my life.”

-- William Shakespeare, Henry the Fourth, Part 1, Act 5, Scene 4, Line: 121

With the ever-growing functionalities of the WWW and Internet, people go online to meet a range of human needs. According to A. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1943), people function based on five levels of needs. The foundational needs have to be met first in order for people to progress to the higher stages of achievement. At the base level of this hierarchy involves physiological needs—for food and water, sleep, and other basics. At the next level is the need for safety. This is described as physical safety and employment; others add issues of property rights (that help secure safety). Next is love/belonging, which involves meaningful relationships with others through family, friendships, collegial relationships, and various types of human-to-human intimacy. Esteem, the next level, requires self-confidence and the respect by and for others. Lastly, and at the pinnacle of the human hierarchy of needs, is self-actualization—which involves the achievement of creativity and the full expression of the self. These terms are necessarily vague and interpretive, but this will serve as a basic scaffold for the inquiry.

So what are some ways that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is used to meet human needs? Table 1 highlights some of these factors.

Table 1.
Ways that information and communications technology is used for meeting human needs
Levels in Maslow’s Hierarchy of NeedsWays that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is Used for Meeting Human Needs
Self ActualizationLearning; crowd-sourcing; changing the human (info) ecosystem; innovation and creativity; self-identity exploration
EsteemSelf-expression; garnering publicity and electronic adoration; support for others’ (endeavors, ideologies, and ways of being)
Love/BelongingSocializing; intercommunications (lean and multimedia-rich); dating; relationship maintenance; social networking and “friending”
SafetyEmployment and work; trade; job hunting; fund-raising; sales; tools for financial planning; finding housing; information-seeking for decision-making (the elimination of some information asymmetries)
PhysiologicalThe purchasing of groceries and resources; “hooking up”; arranging for physical care

Phrased in the context of the Hierarchy of Needs, Figure 1 showcases how people go to the WWW and Internet to fulfill a range of human needs.

Figure 1.

An electronic hierarchy of human needs fulfillment (an adaptation)

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