Mofi’s Story: Economically Unchained
Mofi knew it wouldn’t be easy. The creative process was never easy for her. First was the internal struggle. She always had at least half a dozen ideas bumping around in her head, and she had to figure out how to share those with the world. What form would they take? It was a process of both delicate refinement and incredible waste — at least according to the countless crumpled sketches and notes scattered all over her small makeshift studio in her family home. But she always found a way to create something wonderful — eventually. Her mom used to quip that she inherited her unrelenting stubbornness from her dad — but without it she’d probably never produce a single work of art. Where she got her idealism however was unclear.
Mofi’s internal struggle was manageable, if not fulfilling. But the harder struggle she faced was the external one. Her dad told her that if she wanted to go to art school, she needed to embrace the economics side of art. “If you want to be successful in this economy you need to create things that people with lots of money would want to buy. You have to make your art scarce” he told her. Mofi knew her dad was right, but she didn’t like it.
She was a child of the internet age and believed in its boundless possibilities. “This is stupid!” she exclaimed, “I want my creativity to inspire and empower as many people as possible. Why should I produce scarcity when the internet lets me create abundance?” This was not the first time they had some version of this conversation, and her dad’s answer was always the same: “because that’s not how the economy works.”
Mofi’s parents wanted their daughter to be successful, and were concerned that her idealism was getting in the way. They valued their independence and hoped Mofi would value hers. About a decade ago Mofi’s dad quit his high-paying job as a college professor and became an active stock trader. Her mom followed suit two years later and never looked back. They knew the risk, but also understood the reward. “You don’t get compounding interest on your wages” Mofi’s dad would tell anyone who questioned his decision. “And you aren’t truly free until you’re your own boss” Mofi’s mom would add.
“You always told me that just making money in the stock market doesn’t help the economy. But isn’t that what you and mom do now?” Mofi argued. She hated inconsistencies, and hated even more when she had to play by a set of rules that others got to ignore. “It’s true. But we’re making a lot more money now, and can pay for any school you choose. And we get to spend a lot more time with you than when you were little” her dad retorted. “There is a benefit to freedom, and I wish you’d appreciate it more.”
She liked spending more time with her parents, and she liked her freedom too– it just wasn’t the kind of freedom that her dad appreciated. She wanted the freedom to create digital art that empowers people, and share it with millions of people on the web. But she knew that was not always the kind of art that sells well. “That’s not how the economy works” — the words kept reverberating in her ears.
She saw such incredible potential for making people’s lives better through the web, so how could it be that the things that benefited so many people on the web had so little value in the economy? Mofi believed there must be a solution to this. Maybe someone out there was coming up with the economic model for the digital age. Maybe someone was building the tech to make it all work out. But what if there was no one out there that has the solution? How long would she have to wait, Mofi wondered. She wanted her creativity to make a real impact in the world. The thought of having to spend her life living according to economic rules that made no sense to her was intolerable. If no one out there had the solution, maybe she’d have to figure it out on her own. She wanted to break her economic chains — but how?
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