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Thursday, April 28, 2011


by Dammy Onafowokan, Administrative Assistant

Those of you who are avid gamers of the Xbox generation are familiar with the term “Achievements.” These are basically rewards you receive for completing certain tasks in a game, such as collecting five widgets, completing the tutorial level or making it through a stage without being detected. Whatever shape or form achievements take, they give the player extra incentives to complete tasks that may or may not add to the experience. Your achievements can be viewed by your friends and other players via an online profile. Call it “digital bragging rights,” if you will.  Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter also use a similar system for achievements for posting your high score from Bejeweled, broadcasting the new farm animal you acquired or highlighting your current location. All these things are done not only to give you a warm and fuzzy feeling about accomplishing some small task or checking in at some cool (or mundane) location, but to entice your friends, family and followers to perhaps try to beat your score, raise more crops than you, or dethrone you as the mayor of the local Starbucks.

Recent studies have shown that now more than ever before we are an incentive-based society. “What’s wrong with incentives?” you might ask. After all, isn’t a little motivation a good thing?  Of course it is, but a problem begins to emerge where incentives become expected for things that would normally be done out of a sense of duty or responsibility.

Growing up, I didn’t receive an allowance for making my bed, or doing the dishes, or cleaning my room, or mowing the lawn. I did those things because it was expected of me as a responsible contributor to my family.  With society training us to expect a reward for every little thing we do, do we run the risk of needing additional incentives just to do the right thing? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that we will wake up tomorrow in a world in which a young man or woman would demand kudos for helping a senior citizen across the street, but if we have reached a point in society where we even have to incentivize fun (because having fun for the sake of fun is so 2010), what does the future hold? We are constantly plugged in via our laptops, tablets, netbooks and phones to our own personal cheerleading squad that comments on and applauds (or mocks) our every utterance.

So I ask you, where do you draw the line on incentives? Do you still believe that doing good is its own reward? What does the Bible have to say about doing the right thing just for the sake of it? James 4:17 tells us  “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” It is important for us as Christians to remember that we have a God given instructions to strive to do that which is right at all times.  I think that all social media taps into a little bit of the narcissistic nature of mankind. Don’t get me wrong, I use Facebook just as much as the next person, and I find it to be a great way to communicate with family and friends who are far away and also to keep updated on the latest goings on. But I try to remain conscious of the fact that my identity should not be tied up in how people perceive me on a social network. My self worth should not be tied to how many “friends” or “followers” I have or how many people commented on the cool thing I just posted. These may sound like obvious things to most people reading this, but just take a moment to think of all the bragging celebrities and the competition to have the most Twitter followers. Then think of all the people that idolize those celebrities. I think you get the picture. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have widgets to collect and achievements to unlock.

Dammy Onafowokan comes to us from Lagos, Nigeria and is a 2004 graduate of Liberty and is husband to his wife Michelle and father to their new daughter Addision. He enjoys graphic design and cars, both big and small. Visit him on Facebook

Posted by Jodie Walton at 4:29 PM | Comments (0)