Its human nature. If someone gives you a gift, you need to reciprocate. If someone invites you over for dinner, you bring something; a bottle of wine, a bowl of salads or even dessert. If people give you a Christmas gift, you can’t rest until you give them one back.

It’s reciprocity that turned the gift system into the gift economy. Suddenly, giving a gift becomes an obligation, one demanding payment, not a gift at all. So marketers use the reciprocity impulse against us, using the gift as a come-on. I will give you a free gym voucher to train at our facility for a week just for free and maybe you can consider join us.

You best give a gift without knowing or being concerned with whether it will be repaid. The magic of the gift system is that the gift is voluntary, not part of a contract.

The gift binds the recipient to the giver, and both of them to the community. A contract isolates individuals, with money as the connector. The gift bind them instead.

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