We have taken our mother’s advise to the max with our new ability to share our lives with our friends through social media. The concept of the collaborative economy flows directly from that ability to instantly share. Can our economic system really shift from purchasing goods and services to only sharing?
The sharing mentality comes from a good spot – it is much less wasteful. Major companies are getting on board. We can now share a Padagonia® jacket or share a car from Toyota®. Of course the “sharing” is not free. The sharer charges for the item; so shouldn’t it be more accurately called “extreme renting”? It is extravagant and consumeristic to want to own everything ourselves– or is it?
While I am all for reducing the waste of discarding still usable items by sharing them with someone else, blurring the lines of ownership also blurs the lines of responsibility.
If the car you personally “share” for monetary compensation malfiunctions or is in an accident who is liable for damage? Who is paying the insurance and maintenance? Was the maintenance done properly? According to whose standards?
Even more blurry is the thinking of this college student who posted his dorm room for rent on Airbnb. Sure going to college is expensive, and it would be nice to defray some costs, but doesn’t that mean you have to get a job? The student was thinking outside the box. He had laudable reasons for renting his room: he wanted to give all those poor toursits in Boston who want to stay downtown somewhere affordable to stay. But he missed an important point: he signed a contract which specifically prohibits subleasing his room.
What happens when there are security breaches, thefts, or worse yet assaults, when the Airbnb “guests” using common facilities, take liberties?
The student doesn’t remember seeing language prohibiting him from renting his bed anywhere. I guess his mother never told him “Don’t sign anything you don’t read.”
In the student’s defense, a friend and fellow student said “If the Emerson community is as inclusive as it claims to be, it should act it.” He seems not to understand the liability issues for the school either.
So while sharing is good, it seems to only be able to work when people “share” known-quality goods and services that come from a reliable source.
© Jane F. Collen March 15, 2016
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