Paying for Priceless
Whether it is a song, a video, or a university textbook that I’m after, my first move is to rummage around the Internet looking for a free download of it. If a free alternative doesn’t appear to me, I employ ‘plan b’ and hunt down a discount code or coupon so it’s closer to free than it might’ve previously been. If I find neither of these options are successful, I concede defeat and either tell myself, ‘you didn’t really need/want that anyway’, or go and pay what I consider an exorbitant price for it.
It’s not because what I’m after really isn’t worth paying for, but rather ‘why would we ever pay for anything that we could get for free?’ (Kelly, 2008).
In Kevin Kelly’s post, Better than Free, he outlines eight generatives (immediacy, personalisation, interpretation, authenticity, accessibility, embodiment, patronage and findability) that make something, that could otherwise be available for free, worth paying for.
I can relate to a number of these (for a full description of each you should most definitely read Kelly’s article here), particularly in regards to my love of music. I’m into all kinds of music, and listen to anything between jazz and country to punk and rock. Needless to say, I love live music. In fact, it was just the other day I was telling my boyfriend how I had made a commitment at the last concert I had attended, to invest more of my money into live music. I say invest because to me the event of hearing my favourite bands blast my favourite songs into a hazy room filled with sweaty fans is priceless. There’s just something about live music that makes a hundred bucks for a 2-hour set seem like a justifiable purchase.
I think I know what that ‘something’ is, and it makes me wonder why Kelly didn’t include it in his eight generatives. Perhaps he purposefully left it out because he deems it irrelevant to the online world, or maybe he simply neglected to realise its importance. This ‘something’ is a thing I deeply value, in fact I would consider it to be one of the few things in life that I would pay the most for. That ‘something’ is experience.
Experience is subjective. It’s exciting, it’s personal, it’s timeless and it’s the most valuable currency on this planet (and not just on your résumé). One study showed that experiences make us happier than possessions. The study looked at 154 participants, and compared their responses to a list of questions asked about any recent purchases they had made in order to make themselves happier, be it experiential or material. ‘The researchers found that people felt a greater sense of vitality or “being alive” during the experience and in reflection’. The study also proved that ‘experiences led to more happiness in others than purchases did’ and they also showed a ‘higher level of satisfaction at the time and after the experience had passed’ (Landau, 2009).
It is for an experience that I will pay that exorbitant price for a concert. Experience is a generative thing. It ‘cannot be copied, cloned, faked, replicated, counterfeited, or reproduced’ (Kelly, 2008). Experiences are priceless and that is what makes them worth paying for.
- Kelly K, 2008, Better than Free, Edge, 5 February, viewed 30 August 2014, http://edge.org/conversation/better-than-free
- Landau E, 2009, Study: Experiences make us happier than possessions, CNN International, 10 February, viewed 30 August 2014, http://edition.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/02/10/happiness.possessions/