Should you accept free lunches?

. 2 min read

You probably know what a free lunch is. Actually, that sentence is moot, since free lunches are known to be nonexistent. But you know that I mean - there is no such thing as a free lunch; you cannot get something for nothing.

This nicely leads us to the topic of today's article. Have you ever been offered a free lunch? Did you accept it? Did you realize afterwards that there in fact was a price to be paid for that lunch?

The lunch can of course refer to any service, product, food, anything that you seemingly get for free. But you don't. There's always a price. You pay for free information in YouTube videos by the ads you have to give some of your attention to. Same goes for online blogs - you don't have to pay for the information as long as you're willing to look at the ads. So you're not paying money, but attention - which is perhaps worse. Luckily some sites are changing their revenue model so that if you pay money, you get access to the site ad-free.

Then there are other kinds of priced lunches - like gifts and seemingly unconditional services. You might think you can crash at your friends house whenever you're in their town because they said you could - but beware: they could be demanding the same service from you in return whenever they're in your town. Even though you thought they were offering their couch unconditionally.

Then there's the case of gift giving. I got invited to a party in another city recently and the host offered to pay for my hotel room. I immediately got sceptical and refused, saying I'd handle the hotel bill myself.

This varies from people to people, though. The host mentioned has a history of being conditional about services before. But I also know other people who honestly do not expect anything in return for favors, and I've learned to trust them. It's all about psychological analysis; personally, I only let people I know to be trustworthy to do me favors. I also like to do favors for them - but out of sincerity and the desire to make them happy, not out of debt.

Beware from whom you accept free lunches.