Monday, 22 January 2007

The Search For Meaning

An interesting invitation came across my desk recently - to go Tankballing. Tankballing is the latest version of the sport of Paintballing, which I believe, is known as 'wargames' in the US.

The idea of Paintballing is that a team (usually a group on a corporate team-building day) dresses up in army fatigues and goes around an enclosed environment shooting an opposing team with pellets of paint. Tankballing is the mechanised version of this, where teams go around a course, in a tank, shooting paint pellets at other tanks. (See Link).

It is interesting to reflect on why people do this sort of thing, as it has something quite profound to say about our futures. If we accept Maslow's 'Hierarchy of Needs', then as our more basic needs of, say food and shelter, are met, then we find that we are likely to progress on to higher orders of needs, such as finding meaning in our lives. Looking at this globally, last year over 100 million people in India and China moved out of poverty. As their disposable incomes rise, so, once their more basic needs are met, will their consumption on goods and services that help them in their quest to find meaning in their lives.

Tankballing might be at the extreme end of the spectrum in finding meaning - it recognises that we weren't always human - but it does represent a desire for adventure that is within modern societies. This desire manifests itself in many ways. For example, those who desire adventure in the form of the Merchant Explorers could be catered for by companies such as Fred Olsen, who operate a Star Clipper service (see, where the traveller can sail the seven seas in a Tall Ship. Once the rising consumers in the BRIC nations latch onto this form of consumption, demand is likely to grow commensurately.

This will have quite an impact on resource use and the environment in the future. One could question the sustainability of ever more growth in adventure tourism. A diminishing resource is likely to be peace and quiet when on holiday. Paradoxically, it could become the case that the only way to find peace and quiet is to stay at home!

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