Since When Is Sharing So Bad?
from the it-seems-like-a-good-thing dept
Need a Connection? Sorry, This Is MyFi is a sad tale of where our society has come to. In brief: The writer has a MiFi, a little box that connects to the cellular network and creates a small WiFi network that you can connect to. She was using here MiFi box at the San Francisco airport. Someone recognized it and asked if he could share here connection. She said "no".
Now, she was certainly under no obligation to share her connection. There are good reasons for saying "no". The connection isn't super-fast, and depending on what you and the sharer are doing, you might well notice a slowdown. There's a cap on monthly usage, beyond which you pay per byte, so if you tend to come near the limit (it's 5GB and unless you use the service to do things like download movies regularly it's hard to do) it could cost you.
Still, it would have been a *nice* thing to share - you'd think. Most (to be fair, not all) of the responses to the article are adamant that sharing is a bad idea. All the bad memes appear: "He could download child porn. He could share music. You could be blamed." The general feeling is that sharing your WiFi connection is like picking up a scary-looking hitch-hiker. I mean, what were you thinking?
Even worse, many people seem to believe *it's rude to ask*! That, I find astounding and deeply disturbing. Do we really want to live in a society where asking you to share something that may well cost you nothing to provide is *rude*?
There's plenty of work in behavioral economics that shows we classify transactions as either "social" or "economic". We apply different standards to each. The social realm is all about reciprocity and trust, while the economic realm is all about value and rules. Once things cross over into the economic realm - and a simple mention of money is often enough to cause a transition - it's extremely difficult to go back. (If you think this is all about some dreamy socialist communal life, consider what would happen on a date if - to be traditional - the guy made a point of how much the dinner cost, what he paid for the theatre tickets, etc. Think that evening would end well?)
Yes, network access is sold, not given away. Yes, someone does have to pay to build out the networks - so I have no problem paying my fair share - just as I pay for the sugar in my kitchen. But is it really wrong for my neighbor to knock on the door and ask to share some?"