Almost every aspect of our lives involves an agreement of some kind. It might be with an employer, a community group, the local ticketing agency for the city bus network, or some Big Box Retail Store you're buying shoes from over the internet.

Sometimes, the agreement explicit and obvious, such as a contract of sale when purchasing a house or an employment agreement. There's an enormous stack of paperwork to wade through – occasionally with a lawyer or solicitor – and we need to sign our life away (not literally... usually) before anything can occur. It's clear what you're agreeing to.

Other times, the contract is explicit, but disregarded – like those terms and conditions presented when signing up for a service or buying a product online. The contract is just as long, but we assume all is OK by ignoring everything, and proceed regardless.

We're so used to scrolling past that "terms of service" or "conditions of sale" box on a website that we don't even think about those agreements existing.

Both my mother and I were trying to make time go faster. She was checking Twitter and I took photos of her, checking Twitter. What a time to be alive.
Photo by Marten Bjork / Unsplash

Finally, there are agreements that are hidden, subtle, and nuanced.

We sign away much of our privacy when we use social media. We kind of know less than ideal things are occurring, but inertia and ease-of-use make it difficult to cut away any ties.

Perhaps we utilise a ride-sharing service because it's cheap and convenient, without thinking about the reliance on overworking and relationship strain this causes parts of the community.

I call all of these situations social contracts. They are our contracts, often unwritten and unspoken, with our local community and our society at large. By doing the things we often absent-mindedly do, we can effect great positive change or oppression upon entire communities across the world.

Join me as I explore my relationship with some of these organisations to see how they affect my life, and how my decisions can impact upon the lives of others.


How do you think social contracts affect your life and that of others? Leave a comment below to discuss!