Now that I don’t buy things I encounter two problematic situations when accepting something given to me.
1. Regular giving. It’s a kind of social contract between friends and aquaintances to give and share. It’s a great way of bonding if every member of the group takes part in giving and receiving.
Now that there is a disparity to the disadvantage on the giving part on my behalf, what does this imply for me and receiving? Especially when those who give assume, just because I am among them, that I will be able to give as well at some point? Which I might not, cause without money I am less flexible. Am I abusing their assumptions to my advantage? Am I obliged to transparency? Wouldn’t it be impractical and downright annoying to be thoroughly transparent? All the time? Could I say that one shouldn’t offer something if he expects to get something in return, because by implicitly expecting this I have no chance to make an informed decision to decline the offer? Or would that be ignorance of social convention and therefore social reality and thus, worst of all an implication of my moral superiority? Implying the common place but somewhat naive “But if you except something in return you shouldn’t be offering in the first place”? Wouldn’t I then paternalize those from whom I take without letting them know that I won’t have anything desirable to share with them anytime soon? Or at least might not?
When I can return the favor, I don’t care so much about the motivation of giving from the other part. But now motivation becomes the crucial factor for me when I want to decide to accept or decline.
2. Giving because “I can’t buy anything”. First of all: I can buy, I do have money, I just choose not to use it. So the situation is something like this: Everyone goes into a restaurant after a meeting to get dinner. It’s a social thing and I’m supposed to come too. I get offered dinner by one person so that I’m able to eat too. I would like to eat. Do I say yes?
I said no. Why? Because this offer wouldn’t have come up had I been using money. It’s an offer born out of the sudden inequality that entails a bit of embarrassment on all sides. These are exactly the uncomfortable situations in which I can learn something. When I evade them by letting someone else pay for me, what’s the point of doing this then? Then there won’t be a difference between being there with or without money, except that someone else pays and I save a lot of money. But do I have to learn something all the time? I said “no” twice, just had a free glass of tab-water instead and what I learned is this: When I am comfortable not having anything while the others do, when I’m not staring at their plates wishing the same for myself, when I’m content with my tap-water, then everyone else is too. This kind of situation really isn’t such a hazard to freeganism if only I get my act together.
Another “I-pay-for-you”-predicament is this: A new movie comes out and friends ask me to come. I decline because I can’t pay for it. One friend says, what the hell, then I pay. Should I accept? That one I didn’t have to decide, my friend ended up watching it via stream and it turned out the trailer was all there was to know. Still: What if? What to do when I get offered that someone else pays because the situation suggests that no matter who pays, someone’s gotta do it?
Declining and thus escaping the situation?
Accepting and thus escaping the situation?
Think outside the box and find non-monetary solutions for situations that claim to only have monetary solutions? I guess that’s the challenge. I guess that’s how long I’m gonna keep doing this: Until this challenge is matched.