Very simple: When the future likely holds a never-ending cascade of menial, back-breaking labor for scarce pay, people collectively turn unmotivated. The motivation concept is not at all different at that social segment and socioeconomic strata of society than the motivation concept which is so closely monitored and nurtured in tech. The only difference is that the current economic system does not even care whether that segment of people is motivated at all, or when it pretends to care, it tries to motivate them by offering pointless carrots like ‘employee of the month’ or other titles which bring little monetary value if they bring any at all.
The majority of the people are actually not stupid or oblivious: That segment of society subconsciously knows what their odds are. Uncle Shamus may have worked hard and have become a respected middle-class hardware store owner downtown, but his future hangs on a thread and that thread is tied to Walmart or another big competitor bankrupting him at any arbitrary point in the future. Another distant relative may have worked very hard and somehow made it to a mid-level tech employee in a mid-tier city somewhere in the Midwest, but he may be one among hundreds of relatives and acquaintances who have been fighting for decades and not getting anywhere.
The majority of people may not be intellectually honed, but they subconsciously notice a lot of things.
Which brings us to:
Many people overcome tremendous hardship to make it and succeed
The survivorship bias… If that was a rule that could be applied to society at large, there would not be problems of inequality and all the social issues it brought. Neither there would be this much estrangement between large segments of society and those who ‘made it’. Those who make it may be noticeable in given sample sets and may create an illusion of upward mobility, but for it to actually work it needs to be applicable to large segments of the society.
But unfortunately, it isn’t.
That is after the fact that it shouldn’t require hard work to make a decent life today, 20 years into the 21st century.
The proposition is faulty from the start, but somehow gets accepted as if it is only natural. That ever-harder work is normal to have a decent life.
20 years into the 21st century, we are standing at the threshold of the door to Mars, beholding the rise of AI, already being immersed in immense automation that can create wealth and amenities that are unparalleled in history.
Yet people are expected to work harder than how much the serfs in the Middle Ages worked, not only for longer durations but also in even more stressful environments and they are also expected to be content with just making do or just attaining a middling level of life.
The deal is a bad one from the start.
There were at least the technological amenities that the progress has brought, but today most of them are already out of the reach of the majority of people, and others are slipping away.
So basically, society at large is working harder and longer than in the Middle Ages yet contending with even less share of the economic value from the economy compared to the averages of that time.
That’s what breaks the social contract.
As such, people become lazy. They don’t even need to have knowledge of past centuries or how people in the Middle Ages lived. Just a look at the average reward which their relatives, social circle and people in their town get from their hard work is enough for people to subconsciously realize the way things are going.
As a result, not only people are unmotivated, lazy, and rightfully so, but for some time they have been practically voting to basically destroy the entire societal fabric with their extreme choices.
Because for all they are concerned, it doesn’t work for them at all…