Owners of Nothing

It’s 2017 and I already find myself being the user of so many services that help me to outsource my day to day errands. I no longer need to go out myself to buy milk, I also don’t need to buy my own bread. I have the option to not do these tasks because there are services and apps that do it for me. At a cost, obviously.

Recently, I read an article published by the World Economic Forum which prompted me to write this post. The point of the post is no more than a wondering or a thought. You can refer to the WEF article, here.

The article talks about how most services will become free of cost, people will no longer pay rent and will be using green sources of energy by the year 2030. Bottom line is, how products have become services by the year 2030.  Which is so true and relatable at the moment. So many products today, have already become services. For instance, I don’t own a mode of transportation, because of services like Uber & Ola. Furniture for me is no longer a product since I rent it. You & I, we also have the option to rent clothes.

My view of 2030 is slightly different, though. It doesn’t look at everything becoming free of cost. The reason why the author thinks services are free because individual  A understands that B can use her living room for his office meeting. My view point however, definitely sees 2030 as the year where we will be the owners of nothing. I imagine a 2030 in which I am still paying for all the services I use.

Another point, I’d like to talk about is how the emotional detachment as well as general detachment of people from things and people is also leading to the ‘renting everything’ state of my mind. Most people I know around me, won’t refrain from moving to another city or even a country to do what they want to. Their fluidity and dynamism is what ultimately makes them detached from their environment. This kind of a mentality implies that they do not want to buy a lot of things when they might just move to another place a year later. Not a lot of people want to invest their time and money into searching for the perfect piece of sofa, for the car that gives them a lot of mileage and for a house with a large balcony. So renting makes sense in this case.

Slightly unrealistic and judgemental, but we may even rent food by 2030 because people would have dumbed down so much, that they’d pay according to the amount of time you take to eat a particular food item, rather than the actual cost of it.

The author also talks about how there will be no privacy since we would need to be registered for everything we use. Convenience definitely comes at a cost. This reminds me of the dystopian novel by George Orwell, 1984.  This couldn’t be more true, because of the internet, an average consumer ends up sharing so much information with big companies. In turn, this data is mostly used by them to make more money since they are able to decipher who their consumers are, what they are doing, thinking and where their preferences are shifting. So basically, nothing is private, if you’re accessing the internet at all. Even if you are off social media, you might be using online websites. Hence companies offering such services, for instance, grocery delivery companies, know what you are eating and how much of it.

They may sell this data to health insurance companies, who then spike their premiums if they are aware of the amount processed food items in your shopping cart. It’s a hypothesis.This was one of the points in a very interesting discussion about how we can stop privacy from being a luxury good. The debate is about what can be done to ensure that our lives remain as private as they should be. Is that even possible in 2017?

It’s so mind blowing to realise that George Orwell was a genius for writing this way back in 1949. His point couldn’t be truer. Everything we do is known by someone, all our data is out there, in the open. There are businessmen and governments making use of it, of our preferences, of our communications.

So as we are able to afford to rent most things, there is more capitalism, there is less privacy and definitely, more convenience.

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