The Sum of All Needs

Its hard to believe that a concept known as “The Hierarchical Effect” was put to paper sixty-three years ago, long before the advent of modern technology.

Abraham Maslow wrote a theory and drew up a structure that outlines the five fundamental human needs – and their hierarchical nature in the way we live our lives.

Until recently, I had never heard of this theory. I don’t remember any such teachings in High-School, so I imagine it’s only quoted and taught in university physiological studies and not to the average Joe-Schmo.

Anyhow, Maslow’s theory is now a triangle that is referred to when analysing how people’s minds work in relation to everything they do – whether it be social interaction, parental attention, and self-actualization (I think I am great, therefore I am!).

As shown at, here are the Five Levels of Maslows Hierarchy, in order of importance:

  • Self-actualization needs are to ‘become what we are capable of becoming‘, which would our greatest achievement.
  • Esteem needs are for a higher position within a group. If people respect us, we have greater power.
  • Belonging needs introduce our tribal nature. If we are helpful and kind to others they will want us as friends.
  • Safety needs are about putting a roof over our heads and keeping us from harm. If we are rich, strong and powerful, or have good friends, we can make ourselves safe.
  • Physiological needs are to do with the maintenance of the human body. If we are unwell, then little else matters until we recover.

Rather than blurbing on about what is already said about each of these, here is how each of these fit into both my REAL WORLD and INTERNET Life. Because as we all know, they are not necessarily the same thing – and in 99.9% of cases are completely different.


This would be the area of most importance to me. Often to the detriment of many other important parts of my life. Rather than making friends or helping my human form to remain well, I prefer to find myself through the online work I do and the voluntary contributions I give to friends and others.

Being incredibly single-minded in much of the things I do means that I don’t necessarily need to communicate with others to complete a task. OK, so I have to determine needs and wants of the client, but when the work has to be done – I knuckle down and get it done. Not heroically, but just because I like to get a thing done. Whilst many of my colleagues will discuss televised matter around the water-cooler, I will be thinking about how I better write HTML and CSS, or plotting my next photography trek.

Does this cover the area of self-actualization appropriately? Each of us have a standard by which we live our lives: This area is mine. Creating oneself in the cosmos is an important part of life to me: Without it, we are nothing. At least, in my opinion.

Read on as I cover each of the hierarchy.

Esteem needs

Power and Respect went out the window about ten years ago for me. Having a high level of self-actualization (back to that again!) means that having absolutely no team-power nor respect from others is inconsequential to me. True. I don’t need anyone’s pat-on-the-back to know I have done a good job.

But let me also say this:

  • I love praise.
  • I love money.

Both of these serve a purpose in my life. Praise helps one to remember the team, the effort, the result, and the completed job. Money pays the bills. Without either of these ‘rewards‘, you won’t earn my respect.

Belonging needs

Although not new to me, this is not something I actively think about whilst ONLINE. OK, again, I am listed at various locations around the internet – but why? Not only because I want to be an integral part of the group and to have any sense of belonging – but because I can.

The internet has reached a point where nobody actually knows anyone unless they reveal themselves as human. Geographically, we are incredibly distant; Yet by the width of a copper or fibre-optic wire, we are milliseconds apart. In the time it takes for Bill Gates to earn $500, half the planet sends a billion emails back and forth.

Thus, none of us need actually know the facial appearance, children’s name, not even surname, nor city of people we talk with. To name but a few things!

But Belonging to a group of REAL WORLD people though is important. Since my early teens I have been involved with various social-interaction and community-help groups around South Australia. Whilst in these various social-groups, my little-black-book of people has built up to contain in-excess of three hundred people. Many of whom I happily called friends. But all that is gone and buried, a fleeting moment lost in my history.

Now it is Plurk that allows me to meet and greet with lots of people via meetings, and through social interaction. Without this regular interaction, I don’t feel complete. Which really brings home the need for ‘belonging’, doesn’t it?!

But like every married man, I am happy to have a great friendship and relationship with my lovely wife. Everything else comes second. “And that’s the way it should be!“, SWMBO tells me.

Safety needs

Since the beginning of the world-wide-web, we have all strive for safety and protection from the elements. Amusingly, it’s not about protection from any real danger: It’s more about loss of information and identity.

Whereas it’s from the real world that we should be giving ourselves the most protection: From terrorists who find it important to kill themselves in the name of their chosen deity, from real viral infection that plagues our stomachs with [burp] bugs that want to congest the lower intestine of our mortal form, and from mother nature herself.

It would appear that humans are more fearful of their online counterparts more so than the chance of nuclear holocaust from above. Some fear the chance encounter with a person peeking into their hard-drive rather than a stalker though the front window of their home. And others believe that the invasion will form a netsplit on their server, or in the form of alien attack from the heavens above – whereas the real threat is from humans upon mother-nature’s backyard. Why are humans still deliberately inhaling nicotine-laced smoke? That hole in the Ozone Layer is not getting any smaller, people!

Physiological needs

Like every human out there, I often forget that this is the most important need in life whilst on this ball of mud. Even I have to remember to eat and drink occasionally, and I do enjoy the eating!

Good health, regular sleep, and some exercise. Yep, without these I am purely another link into the internet matrix. Mortality is so strenuous.

Maslows Triangular Hierarchy. Which of these fit your lifestyle?

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