Commercial: What price friendship?
I'm sure some of you know Bud Caddell, the ultra hip, ultra sharp thinker out in New York. Well, his latest experiment is giving me a slight cause to pause.
It is, at root, simple. He'd like a new PC. He doesn't want to shell out on credit or borrow to get it. So he's selling stuff to his friends.
So far so good. Here's a list of some of the services he has available:
’ve gotten pretty handy with Wordpress, need an update? need the design tweaked? need a plug-in installed and implemented?
I blog. I could guest blog for you or something else blog related.
I make killer mix-cds. Have a store and need the perfect soundtrack? I can be your musical Cyrano de Bergerac for a special someone.
I can help you move.
Getting your wisdom teeth out? I make an awesome nurse.
Need your apartment cleaned?
Spot one that might cause you any trouble?
It was the mix CD one for me. Now I know these are almost redundant in the age of Spotify anyway, but I still cleave to the notion that these are an expression of a deeper level of friendship, or would-be friendship. So while I can intellectually see the justification for charging someone running a shop to construct a playlist that appeals to their clientele, charging someone to be their aural ammunesis while a woo-ing? That's just odd.
Of course, this squeamishness about the commoditization of friendship could just mark me out to be a stick in the mud. After all, Burger King has successfully exploited the notion that one can exchange something for your online friends. And isn't that whole idea at the heart of Facebook's business model?
Still, it doesn't mean that we're not losing something; moving a category from the gift economy into the paid-for one, I would wager, means that that object loses a social value while gaining a fiscal one. And at another level, you could argue this has been the whole problem in the development of market economics over the last 30 years - commoditizing things, relationships, processes, systems which intellectually, morally, socially, we're not ready to see sullied or destroyed by cash.
Still, it does rather prove what Tyler Cowen says about there being markets in everything.