Anyone worth their ABC after school special knows that when you are under the bleachers with that special someone, ok fine the captain of the football team, and he reaches for your pom-poms, it's ok to Just Say No. Even if you hinted that you were in it for the long haul, even if you passed him a note during third period Algebra, you are still within your rights to call a stop to the proceedings with a simple No.
This lesson is widely taught to girls 12-17, but is often forgotten by grown adults.
College friend called with a dilemma. After having amassed what may well be the greatest music collection of all times, his neighbor wants to "borrow" it. Neighbor just got his first iPod. Make sure you park your buggy in the garage, Mr. Neighbor, and maybe later I can show you a box in my kitchen that keeps the food cold.
Anyway, friend does not want to "share" his music collection. Has been a recreational violinist for over 20 years, and has met many musicians during that time. Understands that musicians need royalties to make their money. Feels super uncomfortable stealing bread out of the mouths of musician's babies. Understands that sharing digital music is in most cases against the law. Does not want to do anything illegal. Sounds very reasonable. Did he pick up his tin can and string telephone and mention any of this to his neighbor?
He told the neighbor he was concerned about him screwing around with his computer. Told him he worried that the entire digital collection would end up erased.
Neighbor persisted. Researched software that according to very reputable sources can download entire music collection without a hiccup. Bought two terabyte hard drives figuring that would be just enough to hold easily 27 years of music collection. Last week the guy didn't have an iPod. Now he's talking terabytes.
College friend called me for advice.
Here's an idea. Think back to those days under the bleachers and Just Say No.
When your neighbor says "I want to borrow your music collection", you say "No. I wish I could help you, but you know what? Sharing music is against the law and I don't feel comfortable". Or "I can help you figure out how to use iTunes, and how to load your CDs onto your iPod, but I don't feel comfortable sharing my music." Another choice: "I've thought about your request for my music and you know what? It's not sitting right with me. I'm afraid I have to say NO."
Another option: Just like the girls who had lots of creative solutions for not giving anything away, College friend can meet neighbor on second base. Can offer to put a playlist together of favorite tunes for Neighbor, thus only taking bread from a minimal amount of musician's babies' mouths and therefore committing less of a crime.
As I explained to my College friend, we often want to be accommodating, but if you are uncomfortable sharing something that's yours, take a lesson from the twelve year old cheerleader at half time and Just Say No.