Post-Scarcity Currency: Attention or Prestige?

It has started to occur to me that maybe the Orville is a bit more serious (or deserves to be taken a bit more seriously) than it would seem at first glance. A plot element here, a bit of dialogue there and something I read on an unrelated topic over there and I’m starting to perceive a recurring theme, which is how to find meaning in a post-scarcity economy in a globalized existence.

In episode 11 one character tells another that since humanity (and other species represented in the show) have given up money the new currency is prestige – being the best you can be at your job. This is obviously very different from our current reality, where the currency is attention through identity (the harder to prove or disprove the identity the better). One episode explored this by way of a society where people live or die (literally) on the basis of approval expressed via social media platforms.

The argument has been made that science fiction is the ideal genre for toying with how ideas in the real world will play out and I mostly…. don’t buy that because it’s too easy to rig the results. But now I’m thinking I need to go back and take another look at earlier episodes.

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2 Responses to Post-Scarcity Currency: Attention or Prestige?

  1. Status would still matter in a post scarcity economy, in fact it might matter even more, but I’m not sure The Orville is making much of a statement on it. It’s not gone beyond what the various Star Trek shows have shown about post scarcity societies.

    • cliff arroyo says:

      Maybe it’s me, but I can’t think of more than a handful of references to the post-scarcity nature of the Federation? Earth? Starfleet? (I can think of only one unambiguous discussion of the issue from a terrible episode in a terrible early season). But I haven’t seen a bunch of later season episodes (or most of DS9 and only half or so of Voyager).

      The non-material quest for meaning just seems to come up a lot more on Orville both directly and indirectly… maybe because we’re now getting closer to post-scarcity than before.

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