Hugs are not free!

March 29, 2008

I guess I’m a little behind everyone else for the blog post about free, but I figure it’s about time I had my voice heard on the matter. I realize that probably no one besides Dave will read this due to too much free exposure to free, but here goes…

My first experience of free is when i got my first bank account. My mom and dad took me to Scotiabank to deposit money I had received for my birthday, and we put it in a bank account with an extremely low interest rate. About a year later, I received a notice saying that my account balance had gone up somewhere around the area of 1 cent. I was ecstatic. For some reason, the bank had decided to give me free money, for absolutely no reason (besides the fact that they had possession of my money for a year, but I didn’t know it then). I knew then that I would love free things for the rest of my life.Mob of people giving free hugs

On a different note, I’ve recently been reading Seth Godin’s blog post called Where to find great ideas and arresting images. In it, he quickly discussed how Flickr is a great place to get free pictures (such as the one to the right), as well as free ideas that can be used to put the picuture/image in context. Therefore, looking for inspiration, I searched over 500 images hoping for inspiration. I don’t know about inspiration, but I sure did see a lot of pictures about “Free Burma”, and “Free Hugs”.

In my search of free, I’ve realized two things. Nothing is ever free (including hugs), and people appreciate things more, if they aren’t free. I’ll touch on the second one first.

If a person’s greatest ambition is to purchase a new car, and they spend years saving every penny for this car, then when they eventually do get it, they will treat it like gold due to the hard work and sacrifice placed forth in obtaining it. If the same person were given a car for free, say like a student receiving a car from their parents, it is doubtful that this car will be treated with the same respect that it would have if they had personally purchased it. Free breeds disrespect for a product or service.

My second realization, nothing is free, I believe under every circumstance, must be true. Nothing would exist without someone putting forth an effort to create or obtain it. For the most obvious examples, technology, such as open source software, is not free. Even if it is free to the consumer, it cost somebody something. The developers of Linux give their software to consumers for free, but it costs the developers substantially in time and money. How do they make up for this cost? They charge people for the support of the software, like IBM does for Linux.

Conclusion, nothing is free. If one person gets something for free, another person (or company) had to pay for it. Hugs are free? No, they cost the person the energy and time to give that hug. Google’s search engine is free? No, Google makes billions in revenue as a result of having a search engine. Even if you find a $20 bill blowing across the road and pick it up, it is not free, because you had to expend the energy to chase after it and pick it up (as well as it cost the person that lost it by having $20 less, and having expending the energy in actually losing it).

At the very minimum, a product or service that a person receives for “free” cost someone time and energy. It is the amount of time or energy that a person puts into something that classifies it has free. At what amount of time or energy, is a product or service not considered free anymore? That is a question for the class, if anyone has indeed read this.


David McKenna


4 Responses to “Hugs are not free!”

  1. tag1983 Says:

    I liked the comment about the car and I see it all the time, You get someone driving their parent’s car or a car given to them as you stated and they rarely take care of it, but when they own their own and pay for maintenance on it then they realize the value of the car and start treating it with respect.

    Also in answer to your question at the bottom (yes I read your post) and in comment to the whole idea of free I think the only thing that is truly free would be finding the 20 dollars you speak of above, sure you had to bend over to pick it up, but it’s most likely the easiest 20 bucks you ever made. It’s free to you, but like you said the original owner had to lose 20 bucks for you to find it. But to you it is truly free.
    In respect to say someone giving you 20 bucks for your birthday sure you got 20 bucks but what did the giver get? Well They get the joy and satisfaction of pleasing you, and in away, they just bought your affection and happiness. It’s not truly free because you’re giving them joy in being joyful about the 20 dollars. Or if I run a business and I’m giving away hats, then you’re not getting a free hat, I’m getting advertising at the cost of a hat, while you receive incentive to buy at my store. So nothing is free, you’re giving up something that you have, unless you find something that was not intended for you.


  2. mellaz Says:

    David, If you recall my post “free will get you business” I mentioned the ad-wrapped car which you drive the car FREE. Also, Tim Hortons giving a FREE 2009 TOYOTA Matric for as a “Roll up the rim to win” prize. There is always a way to get stuff free you just have to look for it!

  3. mellaz Says:

    David, If you recall my post “free will get you business” I mentioned the ad-wrapped car which you drive the car FREE. Also, Tim Hortons giving a FREE 2009 TOYOTA Matric for as a “Roll up the rim to win” prize. There is always a way to get stuff free you just have to search hard for it!

  4. David McKenna Says:

    To respond to both Z and TAG, I still think nothing is free. Meaning, that no matter what it is, there will be a cost to it. Even though you drive the Toyota Matrix for free, the company wrapping it ads is the one that paid for the car, and for you to drive it. The Roll up the rim prize may be “free” if you win it, but the millions of people buying coffee are the ones paying for it, because it is built into the price.

    I still believe that nothing is free.


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