This isn’t really a WoW post, but since its about human behaviour and WoW is played by humans… inevitably it shows up as well in the game.
How many times have you heard/seen people giving “it can’t hurt” as a reason for doing something? Even if you can show them that whatever they are doing has absolutely no benefit, they will still do it because “it can’t hurt”.
One example of this is the recently promoted “Earth Hour”. It was supposed to be a global event on Friday night, where people would switch off their lights for one hour in order to “save the environment and fight against global warming”. The local radio stations promoted it heavily, and there were newspaper articles written about it as well. Apparently a lot of people pledged to do it, claiming that they want to be environmentally conscious.
However, if you think about it, do you think Earth Hour accomplished anything at all towards saving the environment? For one measly hour, some people turned off their lights. At the end of the hour, they turned them all back on, turned on their air-conditioning, took their 5th bath of the day, drove off for supper in their SUVs or Mercedes Benzes. There was even a letter written to the newspaper here the next day which showed that turning off lights didn’t even save any electricity. The power company does not burn less coal/natural gas if you don’t turn on your lights. They don’t store the “excess power” in batteries, therefore they are not saving it for future use.
If you tell the people who participated all of the above, they would still do it. Because they think that “it can’t hurt”.
Unfortunately, humans are complicated animals, and I think that Earth Hour probably did more damage to the environment than it helped. Why is this so?
It took money to promote the event, which was supposed to be a global affair. Sure, you could say the radio stations and the newspapers didn’t charge for it since they saw it as a form of charity. However, it still COST money. Time is money, regardless of whether any currency changed hands. Instead of spending all that time promoting the event, people could have just donated money (that they would have earned using that time) towards a cause that has a real impact on the environment such as research on alternative energy.
Most importantly, such events give people, and their conscience, an excuse. I’ve said before that I don’t believe in charity, for similar reasons. The only people who benefit from this are the participants. For the extremely cheap price of switching off their lights for one hour (how romantic and exciting…), they have now assuaged their conscience. They can go on with their regular lives, wasting money on frivolous things such as Gucci handbags and driving 2 mins to the store instead of walking “because it’s hot”. They can do this without any second thoughts because in their mind, they have already done their part for the environment. They have exorcised the build-up of guilt that is necessary to push people to make real changes to their lifestyles that would have a real impact.
All actions can have consequences that go beyond the immediately obvious. Tobold says 50 million bucks can’t hurt. Can’t it? I don’t agree with Syncaine either that WoW tourists ruin other games, but I can certainly see how they could have some sort of effect. It’s a bit short-sighted to just say “they got 50 million when they could have gotten 0 million”, because they might have gotten more than 50 million in the long run without the swarm of locusts… i mean, WoW tourists.
Can we see this in WoW? Of course… have you given gold to mailbox dancing begzorz? After all, “it can’t hurt” right? It’s just 10 gold, and you feel good and generous for a few minutes. However, you just encouraged yet another annoying beggar that they can get what they want for free. Instead of being dirt poor and motivated to actually learn some basic money managing concepts that will hold them in good stead even in real life, they now know that they can idle around and still get gold for doing nothing. Giving gold to a guildie for his epic mount is the same thing. When things fall into your lap, why learn how to do it yourself?
Great job, what would we ever do without charity. The road to hell is paved with good intentions indeed.