Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Everything is meant to be broken

This morning I looked around my room. All my belongings are gathered there, and I suddenly realized that this is what belongings are in the first place: a gathering of stuff.

To own things can be beautiful. It frees you up to choose what you like to have around you, gives you the possibility to shape your environment. Belongings are what makes your home a home to you.

But of course you can't be surrounded by all the things you like at the same time, can you? Supposingly it is just to much stuff. So you spread it over several rooms. Maybe you have a book shelf in the bed room and a TV in the living room. A good solution since watching TV and reading at the same time might turn out to be difficult.

But a question comes to my mind: What if somebody else would like to watch TV while you are reading? In a family or shared apartment, sure, but I mean in general. Why do we only share things with people we know well? Back in the day it was a matter of trust. In times of scarcity you would not want to lend important things to someone who might steal it.

But times have changed. First of all, we now live in a world of abundance. And when I say world, I mean the whole world. There is enough for everybody, poverty is just a result of distribution problems (food) or greed. Secondly, trust is nothing that you gain by directly interacting with another person over a long period of time anymore. Nor is it bound to that fact that the person you trust somehow depends on you. With the internet, trust is a currency and being trusted (or not) visible to the public. Sharing has become easier than ever.

In the example of watching TV it is rather superfluous, as most households own one (and the Internet is probably going to take over in the future anyway). But when it comes to special gadgets that you only need twice a year - do you really have to buy them? And if you have already bought them, why not share?

There are loads of apps and online communities for it. But what holds people back might be, that sharing something of value is risky. With trust as a a currency, the risk is not that the item gets stolen, but that it brakes or wears down much faster.

But isn't that what it is made for, to serve its purpose until it falls apart? With technological progress most things do not even come close to that. After a few years, there is a better, faster, and cheaper version of it available. The only way to keep abreast of the times and not throw away intact stuff on a regular basis is to share. It is the sustainable answer to an ever faster changing world.

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