Blog 5

I’ll Scratch Your Back, If You Scratch Mine


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“I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine”, sounds like a great deal for both parties and who doesn’t love a massage? But when the person on the other end is a complete stranger, the deal doesn’t sound as enticing. There’s just as good of a chance I’d get a massage from a super model as there is a 300 pound sweaty homeless man, and that is not a risk I am willing to take. Unfortunately for this stranger, I am even less willing to offer them my home for a week than I am to scratch their back.

After listening to “The Rise of the Sharing Economy”, I was very intrigued by the idea but I had my reservations. In an ideal world, we would have a “peer-to-peer” economy, maximizing our ever decreasing resources. It allows access to transportation, food, and housing to a much larger portion of society. Individuals can save money, and use their finances towards essentials or other opportunities that were not previously available. A “sharing economy” would also have a positive impact on society, leading to the preservation of many more resources and materials. But then again, this is in an ideal world, one which I do not see in the future.

My issue with a “peer-to-peer” economy stems off of the need of trust for the system to work. As a society we are inherently untrustworthy. We naturally don’t trust anything and how can we? Like one of the speakers said in the podcast, regulations are required due to lack of trust and honesty. Regulation on a corporate level is generally easy to enforce, but not on a personal level. Yes, the Federal and State laws of the United States do regulate our “personal actions” but not to the extent that I would ever be comfortable offering up my home to a stranger. Even with insurance policies in place, it will cost my time and effort at a minimum.

I am also very skeptical that a “peer-to-peer” economy will gain enough momentum to be on a large scale. I believe enough have the same reservations I do, and there has been, and will continue to be backlash from other businesses. Another doubt I have is that these companies aren’t truly “sharing businesses”. They are essentially rental companies, offering new products. Rental businesses have been around for years. This business practice is far from new, they are just offering new products. Although many see great potential in the “sharing economy” I believe it is reaching its potential. It might be the dominant economy in the future, but I don’t see that being for decades down the road.

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8 thoughts on “I’ll Scratch Your Back, If You Scratch Mine

  1. Andrew, while I see a slightly brighter future for peer-to-peer sharing I agree with you in that ” As a society we are inherently untrustworthy.” However, I suspect that in smaller towns or certain neighborhoods people are more inclined to trust their neighbors. In this sense I suspect that peer-to-peer sharing will become more popular, but not broaden to the national or international scale. Rather, more communities will adopt peer-to-peer sharing systems on a local level.

    P.S. I too would not be willing to share my house with a complete stranger either

  2. Andrew, I agree that as humans we have a difficult time trusting one another; however, do you think that people still have a difficult time trusting individuals and businesses in a capitalist economy? And that still exists. Airbnb and housing aside, I think the sharing economy will gain in popularity–especially with people still struggling from the effects of the Recession and a shift toward environmental sustainability.

  3. Andrew,
    I agree that the concept is nothing new. I also agree about how tough it is to regulate these programs, and that there is a lot at stake for those involved. Do you think that the concept of a “sharing economy” is being taken too far in certain situations? And why do you think people are trying to convince us that this is a whole new concept, and not simply renting?

  4. I would agree with many of your points. In an ideal society this idea would work flawlessly. People could share their belongings and everything would seem to go well. However, as you pointed out, this is not an ideal economy and probably will never be. Personally, I would never trust someone who I don’t know to stay in my home; there are too many risks involved. For this economy truly to work I think you would need a tremendous amount of trust, which I just don’t see happening.

  5. I am not sure you thought through this:

    ” In an ideal world, we would have a “peer-to-peer” economy, maximizing our ever decreasing resources. ”

    DO you mean the WHOLE economy? That would eliminate or obsolesce corporations or other forms of collective private ownership (partnerships, etc). I mean P2P would mean that all exchange would happen among peers.

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  7. I like back scratching. But as a social nicety and responsibility – it could never replace or become a major part in our economy these days. Nor does it need to – we have an excellent global economy… don’t we?!

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