This past September, KCRW released a podcast called “The Rise of the Sharing Economy.” During the podcast, a variety of individuals discuss the “new” idea of a sharing economy, also referred to as a peer-to-peer economy or collaborative consumption. The major benefit of a sharing economy is that it allows people to use products and services without actually owning them. Recently, it seems, entrepreneurs have been promoting this concept of sharing through businesses such as Airbnb, Zip Cars, and Cookening—just to name a few. One of the questions the podcast raises, however, is whether or not this concept really is new.
In my opinion, it is not new at all; it has simply gained more popularity and has expanded to be the basis of many new business ideas. I agree with a couple of the speakers on the podcast in that sharing is something the human species has been doing for quite some time. We share with friends, we share with family members, we share with classmates…and the list goes on. Why should we not share with other people in our communities or across the world?
Even though this is not a new idea, I do believe it requires humans to instill a great deal of trust in one another. For example, one of the speakers brings up the dangers that could potentially occur in a business model such as Airbnb, since hosts do not know the people who are spending the night at their homes. On the other hand, Derek Thompson from The Atlantic responds to this by saying that dangerous situations occur rarely, and they are just as likely to occur at a standard hotel. This reasoning supports another idea brought up in the podcast; people have to trust each other in a sharing economy, but they also have to trust each other in the capitalist economy. The chance of something dangerous or bizarre occurring is so slim, that participants in both economies are taking some sort of risk with every economic decision they make.
Evidence shows that the sharing economy is very beneficial to individuals who would like to use products or services without actually owning them. Expanding our idea of sharing to the general public not only allows us to prevent waste, but it contributes to a sense of community. I think that if we can trust each other and have faith in the human race this could be a great way to bring people together.