Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The stingy and anonymous are bound to fail

Let me explain my thoughts from yesterday a little more and start with this question:

Have you ever been second best or worse?

I bet we all have. But how do we deal with second best achievers in life when it comes to money? Do we buy the second best product once in a while to honor their efforts? Do we pick the second best employee to give him or her a chance, too?

Of course we don't do that, and it's for two reasons. Firstly, we have to pay for it with cash. The price is a number that tells you what to do and it rules out any emotions of human kindness. Secondly, caring about weaker members of society (and compared to "the best" we're all weak) is social behavior. But it is made impossible by anonymity with global markets and seven billion people. We will unlikely spend more money to support a person we've never seen before.

The good news is that both of these reasons can be fought. On the one hand we can fight the power of money by being generous. That may seem like a joke, but once you've started you'll find that sharing, bartering and helping others without charging money is fun. In Germany we have a brilliant clothes exchange service called Kleiderkreisel that enables users to exchange and sell second hand clothing. You can also give away stuff for free, but this option is rarely used. Imagine all the people giving away what they don't need. What a tremendous rise in wealth it would be for everyone!

And on the other hand anonymity can be fought by online forums who enable us to vouch for someone. Furthermore I think that considering the power of trust (and the loss of it) could shed a whole new light on the debate about data privacy.

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