Blog 5

Are we in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood?


After listening to the podcast, something definitely irks me the wrong way. I think I am feeling Milo Yinnopolis’s notion of guilt mongering. Honestly, I want to believe in this shared economy concept. It sounds really nice—something Mr. Rogers would promote in his Neighborhood of helping and caring…and don’t we all want to live in a place where we share our resources to benefit someone else? I sure do! But my neurotic, skeptical, risk-adverse side is throwing up red flags left and right. 

However, there are two things I am very concerned with: safety and privacy. Ana Bernasec makes the point that trust is essential to any type of economy, including capitalism. She says that we think about our economy as mostly self-interest based and rarely recognize how we cooperate with each other to create wealth. While I agree with this blanket statement about trust’s value and the benefits of collaboration, I am not completely convinced this theory has a place in our practical world. Listening to this podcast made me almost forget that we live in a dangerous world—people are not always looking out for your best interests, people are not making the best decisions and there’s always our fickle friend, chance, to get us in the end. I would love to truly believe in the white picket fence and window box existence that Ana and April Rusi seem to live in.

For the transportation companies, such as Zipcar and Citibikes, I understand the shared idea. I think it’s great if more people are benefiting from the access to idle resources. However, the extreme company concepts of Couchsurfing and sharing leftover food, I have my reservations. It seems that there is no way to screen enough to know if the stranger to come and live on my couch free of charge is not looking to harm my family. Is there any regulation to the food swapping—allergies? Poison? And in the end this concept of technology progressing the shared economy just sounds like renting.

Lastly, the idea of privacy and ownership are cornerstones of a healthy life and good well-being. Our world seems to be more and more obsessed with “being social”. But is updating our Facebook profile pictures really social? Is Instagramming our sushi rolls really reaching out to the community? Isn’t it just another form of vanity? Aren’t we just all competing for the most likes to boost our egos? If I value my privacy and prefer to meet my friends face to face, am I not cool? Is this technological wave of social media too much to the point that if I am not sharing my mom’s lasagna with a stranger on cookening.com will I be considered out of touch? What does this say about society’s emerging values? Why are we really sharing?

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10 thoughts on “Are we in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood?

  1. Kate,
    Loved your post. I am right there with you when you said your “neurotic, skeptical, risk-adverse side is throwing up red flags left and right.” Mine was doing the same. Totally agree that the zip car and bikes ideas are great. People definitely should have access to good like those without having to own them. While I understand the arguments about trust in capitalism, I feel as though some of these sharing economy concepts take the trust concept too far and ask too much out of people. I checked out the Airbnb website and saw that people can select homes based on profiles and personal information. For some reason that still just doesn’t do it for me… It’s almost like a dating website, but Instead of dating the person, you’re living in their home.

  2. Kate, I think you bring up many great points here and I think this post is very well-written. You have a strong argument regarding privacy. I would think businesses like Cookening would have thought some of these issues through as they were creating and implementing their business models. As far as the sharing economy goes in general, I don’t think society will shift so much toward collaborative consumption that it will be considered uncool to value privacy. I believe deciding whether to participate in the sharing economy is a personal decision, and due to issues regarding safety and privacy it will never be completely accepted by everyone.

  3. This is definitely a very well written post Kate! I think you bring up some great points. Your comments about safety and privacy certainly resonate with me. I think that this social interaction is allowing for more legal problems to occur. With less “regulated” interaction like the idea of sharing leftovers, a lot more responsibility is going to fall on the individual. People with allergies need to ask the right questions and be conscious of their own health. But I would argue that people are not going to take on this responsibility. We live in a world where you can sue for anything, spill hot coffee on yourself and win millions. I think there will certainly be lawsuits that results from all this sharing and who will the blame fall on? The company orchestrating the transaction or the people who agreed to it?

  4. Kate,
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post and couldn’t agree more. Without a doubt some of these sharing ideas are definitely beneficial. Zipcar and Citibikes are great ideas which I think have a ton of potential both for outlying resources and creating a more efficient society. However, you also are correct in pointing out the absurdity of the extreme company concepts such as Couchsurfing and sharing leftover food. I believe the line needs to be drawn somewhere, and like you said I would definitely draw it at letting a stranger stay in my house. And personally I am not sure I could ever eat someone else’s leftovers. I just see way too many health hazards surrounding that idea. I think some of the sharing economy has potential, but we cannot let ourselves get carried away with it.

  5. This is a great post. I agree with much of what you are saying. I have used the Citibikes before and think they are a great idea. However, when it comes to leftover food or letting a stranger stay in my house, I become concerned as well. The internet has allowed there to be an obstacle when we interact with others. Some people tend to hide behind technology, so how do we really know who we are letting into our home?

  6. You know, last night, Neil Gaiman, great author, was talking about having 900,000 twitter followers. But as great as he thinks it is for some things, and it is, he also talked about being lonely once. He said this on twitter and a follower said “you have 900,000 people here. How can you be lonely.” His reply:

    “Can you make me a cup of tea?”

  7. Here is what bugs me about this post. You make this comment about the “pracitical world.”

    After listening to a podcast about hundreds of thousands of people and millions of dollars in this.

    Aren’t you ignoring the reality of it as it exists>?!?

  8. I really enjoyed the questions you ask at the end of this blog post. The internet has allowed us to share interactions instantaneously with many people, but the act of sharing is more than what social media makes it out to be. Most people have no problem ‘sharing’ their thoughts with people online when they have lots of problems sharing those same thoughts with random people on the street in person. There are many underlying feelings and motives for sharing things in person and I fear that a shared economy will lose those things. People will eventually see ‘sharing’ goods or services via internet as just another means of collecting profit from assets that they own.

  9. Pingback: Blog Council Report: Build your Blogging Skills | B-Ethics

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