We don't give rides to strangers because we like them. We just need the money.
Well, stories about te down-sides of the sharing economy stars are popping up everywhere these days. And they leave us with important questions, intriguing problems to solve. The latest in a row is this story, about the - supposed - reasons why people rent out their houses and cars: it is because of desperation.
The title is certainly catching, and I think the Kevin Roose is partially right, like so many of the commentators on the sharing economy. Personally, I have never used Uber (I do not ride taxis very often), but I am an AirBnB hoster and traveller (I am a hoster anyway, a multi-canal tourist provider, in official terms, AirBnB is part of my strategy).
For having met quite a bit AirBnB hosters and travelers, I do not agree fully with Kevin Roose: people rent out their properties for money sure, since if not, they would be active couchsurfers, wouldn't they? But there is more to the story than money alone. I do rent my property to be able to maintain it, in the first place. Immediately after that comes the human factor: I couldn't imagine La Grosse Talle (www.lagrossetalle.com) without receiving people, the place is about receiving and encountering people. The first reason and the second thrive for priority in my objectives, I couldn't honestly tell you which one is the more important. They change quite frequently (depending on the needs).
For the labor part of it, I do get the strong feeling Kevin Roose implies that the economy is putting people down *because* of the sharing economy platforms. Even if he doesn't say it with so many words, the comments on Twitter have readily taken over the negative implications you can filter out of the article.
Now, AirBnB and Ubers' rewarding policies are not exactly the same (3% vs 20%) and the same counts for the market they operate in. So the answer to that question is a bit more complex than suggested in the article.
Turning the reasoning upside down, you could also state the opposite: since the economy is so bad, fortunately we have new platforms on which people can develop new qualities, activities and gather (partial) incomes. They will help designing real and sustainable new economic models.
Excerpt. "Jason Tanz attributes the success of these start-ups to the invention of a "set of digital tools that enable and encourage us to trust our fellow human beings," such as bidirectional rating systems,background checks, frictionless payment systems, and platforms that encourage buyers and sellers to get to know each other face-to-face before doing business.
Tanz's thesis isn't wrong — these innovations have certainly made a difference. But it leaves out an important part of the story. Namely, the sharing economy has succeeded in large part because the real economy has been struggling."