Have you ever received "free" stuff? If you go to a big event many companies will give out free samples or little tokens to remind you of them. This stuff we all get (swag) is cheap and is a form of advertisement. What about Shirts or hats with logos?
There is a lot of free stuff around. Free email! gmail, yahoo, hotmail, etc. We use social networking sites for free. Many apps for Android and iOs are free, sometimes even phones are free. There are many free operating systems available too.
However, all this free stuff comes at a price. The afore mentioned swag is wearable advertisement or some thing that reminds you of how generous the company was and perhaps you will do business with them. While this is minor it does start a slippery slope.
Free email is the next slip. It is a service that is not free to provide to users, it requires drive space in controlled environment, bandwidth so it can be accessed, maintanence, security, and development. What is the price we pay for using free email? The provider scans the emails looking for patterns. It can be determined that if you send emails to a company selling headphones that you might also like music. That is not terrible and supposedly personally identifiable information is removed when someone actually sees our patterns. I have given up a littel bit of myself to get email service in return.
Free phones came next on the downward slope. Many cell phone service providers offer the latest and greatest phone for a small price (or free) if you sign a contract with them. Some of those same providers now offer monthly rates that are still cheaper even with a purhcase of a phone, than the equivalent 2-yr contract and a free phone. The price we pay is lock-in and freedom to choose a different service. Without the ability to choose another service, rates go up.
Free social networking is where we slide uncontrollably. We want to connect with our friends and aquantances so we put some of our information on a social network and get bombarded by messages from people that spend their time fiddling with some virtual farm when they could be outside creating a real one. Our information is connected to others. Our likes are used to truly determine what we think is funny and our personality. The network understands our desires and personality better than perhaps we understand ourselves. We give a big part of ourself and life online for others to see and advertisers to buy.
We have become so used to receiving "Free" stuff for a piece of life and freedom. When the Patriot Act was introduced after the massacre on the 11th of September 2001, I felt as if lives had suddenly been snuffed out. In retrospect, it was suddenly but our freedom has been greatly reduced. Every time legislation is passed in Congress our liberty is taken down another notch. Every time some mayor dictates that only certain sized food or drinks can be bought or sold we have less freedom to choose. I know the intention is good: to help people. but the results yield the exact opposite and end up casuing harm to more people, so more legislation or edicts are put in place.
I know this is liberty taken from us, but I fear that because of being conditioned to receiving free stuff (swag) we clammer for more oversite and less freedom.