In 1968, Garret Hardin published a paper entitled ‘The Tragedy of the Commons‘ and to this day, is one of the most important lessons I ever learned.
The paper verbalized an instinctual behavior by individuals to consume the very resources needed by everyone to survive. Even though we probably realize that our actions are wrong and short-sighted, we do it anyway, mostly for our own short term survival and/or because others are doing the same. Evidence of this behavior is all around us and can be seen in business, politics, food, housing…you name it. We are all guilty at some point of acting in such a way that is a ‘net negative’ to the resources that help us live our daily lives.
In effect, the Tragedy of the Commons is largely about consumption without replacement. The incentives that exist for all of us to “take from” without “investing in” are powerful. It is simpler to take than to replace and the hidden cost largely goes unnoticed until it is too late. Crop rotation and fields left to fallow are evidence that farmers have understood this concept since nearly the dawn of time.
As Realtors, we are the worst offenders of strip mining the social platforms and our own networks in lieu of investing in them. It is unfortunate as the truest value of ‘social’ is that of free exchange of idea, opinion, information and feeling.
The internet was created to connect us all. It is essentially free and gives us all a tool by which we can reconnect with old friends, find and develop new ones and stay connected to those that time otherwise wouldn’t allow. As the web has increasingly become a part of our lives, the tools created to make it easier to use and connect have grown with it.
I just wish we would do a far better job of investing in them.
For every post offing a true glimpse into the real estate market, I see 20 simply pitching some average listing or shamelessly trolling for buyers. For every original take on the market, I see 20 that are simple re-posts of articles without any real commentary as to its importance. For every true narrative, I see many more that are patently false or ridiculously exaggerated.
The ‘Best Practices’ for social platforms are simple – show respect and offer value. I challenge my peers and colleagues to offer content full of insight and analysis about our marketplace that has merit. The “I’m so busy” status updates are not a substitute for true content. Please stop.
Invest in your network with quality and value. It will grow far healthier over time.