Human well-being and prosperity

Throughout history, the betterment of human well-being has been a result of technological and scientific progress. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can help us understand the effects of digitalisation on human well-being and prosperity (Figure 2).

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Figure 2. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

In the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, digitalisation has become a vital tool in meeting human needs, from the bottom to the top of Maslow’s pyramid. Digital services have become a key component of food supply, particularly in urban areas. One step up in the pyramid, security in many cases has become synonymous with cybersecurity, reflecting our dependence on digital networks.

Online communication between friends and family has facilitated a sense of belonging as Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, and other digital platforms have provided new ways for us to stay connected. It is yet to be seen whether we will fully shift back to pre-pandemic norms, or whether we will engage in some sort of hybrid model for social interaction.

Further, it is becoming more common to use social media presence (including the number of followers and likes) to measure esteem and prestige. Influencers are often the most respected in online spaces.

Self-actualization, holding the top of Maslow’s pyramid, is made possible via the many new opportunities the internet affords for personal and creative fulfilment.