My daughters were all born after 1990 and it is completely natural to them to view movies or listen to music without ever owning the DVD or CD.
Internet and social media have made it possible to effortlessly share goods and services in an instant for a fee or free and we’re all familiar with the benefits and controversies around some of them such as Uber and airb&b.
The share economy has mushroomed and permeates every walk of life:
- peer-to-peer-lending, crowd-funding
- house-renting, couch-surfing
- ride- & car-sharing
- co-working, knowledge & talent sharing
- re-selling & trading and
- other niche services such as bike renting anywhere in the world with spinlister, and there are probably a few services cropping up right as we speak.
The term sharing economy initially referred to peer-to-peer based sharing of access to goods and services. It is now increasingly applied in a broader sense to describe any transactions that are done via online market places rather than business-to-business.
Pros and cons of the Sharing Economy
More flexibility in work and life, more ways to earn and save money, fewer worries about possessions and obligations, and traditional business becoming more adaptable are quoted on the benefit side of the sharing economy.
At the opposite spectrum we’ve all heard about concerns around labour protection, the loss of permanent livable space, and the general concern that the sharing of benefits big players make for themselves are not trickling down, replicating old patterns of privileged access for some and denial for others.
No one is really sure how these networks are restructuring our society and economy in the long run, but the phenomenon as a whole warrants our attention and thought as to how our individual consumer habits and lives are shaped by it.
Like so many other aspects in life, the sharing economy is a phenomenon that has two sides to it. It can be used to the benefit and upliftment of all involved, or it can be used for limited-minded, self-serving purposes.
Awareness in our decision making is the tool that reflects our choice in the way we use this inevitable new aspect of society. It gives us an opportunity to express which direction we as consumers want this to go. Will the world become a better one? You decide!