Paying for presence of mind

You should be grateful. I pay a lot of money to keep in contact with you.

Every month I pay \~$20 to keep my hosting on Linode. True, it serves more than just my blog (it also serves several sites, as well as my email). But it's all to keep in contact with people.

I pay two phone bills: one for home, and one for my mobile phone. Those average around $50 a month.

I pay Google for my Google Voice number. Sure, it's not a monetary transaction, but I make up for it in the ad revenue they can squeeze out of me.

Funny thing is you also pay to keep in contact with me. Whatever price you pay for hosting, and whatever privacy costs you might make in exchange for free email.

Being present and available has it's cost. Looking at email and answering the phone costs attention and a certain amount of bandwidth.

Telemarketers and spammers treat these platforms as commodities only because we have no way to bill them in return. If we could send them a bill for our attention, would they be so cavalier about how they treat us? Perhaps it might balance out in the end.

But ultimately we're the final arbiters of what gets our attention: by answering the phone, reading the email, or responding in kind.

We pay dearly to keep in contact with each other, to keep our presence felt. How would our conversations vary if we treated it as a privilege rather than a given?