I have never played Flappy birds. I have never even seen Flappy Birds. I understand it is a game that has quite basic graphics and it quite hard to play. I have heard in the past day or so that the creator of this game now no longer wants it to be available for new players and has withdrawn it from the app stores. It seems that he doesn’t want to receive the estimated $50000 per day advertising revenue that the game generates. From what I can gather this is upsetting people. “Why can’t he give the money to charity, or pay for an old person to go on holiday” is what some people are saying (though the sub-text to that is “give it to me if you don’t want it”). Generally he is due a lot of dosh but he doesn’t want it.
This has reminded me of something the late 80s/early 90s band “The KLF” did in 1994. Strictly speaking “The KLF” had been disbanded by this time and the band members Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty were now calling themselves “The K Foundation”. The pair enjoyed something of a reputation for being ‘challenging’ and ‘difficult’ and regularly took their careers into unexpected directions. Nothing they had done previously (such as writing a number 1 single and then a book called the ‘The Manual – how to write a number one single’) prepared their audience for what they did on a deserted island in Scotland. In front of a specially invited audience they took £1,000,000 from their bank in large bundles of notes and burned it. They filmed the event (you can watch it here if you have an hour to spare) and went round showing the film and holding debates on why they did it etc. They appeared on chat shows (more interesting to watch than the burning itself) and were lambasted by all and sundry for their actions
“Why didn’t you give the money to charity or pay for an old person to go on holiday” people asked them. Their answers to this type of question are quite interesting claiming that the world doesn’t now have less of something useful, like food for example, just a big pile of paper.
What links these stories isn’t so much the actions of the protagonists but the way in which their actions challenge our attitude to money and how, even though we appear to acknowledge that in itself it has no intrinsic value (we state things like ‘money can’t buy happiness’ etc.), we are not being completely honest in this or else we too would be able to turn on backs on the offer of money or even see burning of it as no more than burning a pile of paper.
The fact that we struggle so hard to understand how people can feel so indifferent to money, to value it so little, suggests that we value it too highly and this contradicts our understanding of ourselves and challenges us deeply.
Religious people, especially Christians, speak a lot about leading alternative lifestyles and rejecting the so-called ‘values of the world’ and yet I think you would have to go a long way to find an ostensibly religious organisation, presumably filled with the aforementioned religious people, that isn’t completely fixated on money and how to get more of it.
Pragmatism or hypocrisy?
Any proceeds from this article will be used to send an old person on holiday (in a few years)