Collaborative consumption. Peer-to-peer rental. The access economy. Whatever you call it, sharing goods or services - for a fee, that is - is bigger than ever. Thanks to the Internet, more peer-rental companies like AirBnB, Lyft, and Boatbound are popping up than ever before.
Two phenomena seem to be driving the change from an ownership mentality to a preference for short-term rental, particularly for things from boats to bedrooms abroad that may be used only rarely. First, Facebook led the way for trust-based online communities, self-policed with customs established formally or informally by the group itself.
As social media sites continue to grow and become a bigger part of our daily lives, so does our trust level in the people we meet online - for right or wrong. I mean, would you ever share your credit card information or baby pictures with a total stranger as willingly as you do with your online "friends"?
Additionally, the financial landscape of 2008-2010 was also a huge factor in the growth spurt behind the sharing economy. Back then, we saw lots of folks scrambling for ways to make extra cash or avoiding the purchase of things they didn't need, but still wanted. We also witnessed smart entrepreneurs armed with ideas and technology, like my favorite car service app Uber, take advantage of the new mindset that "access trumps ownership." Download the Uber app, call for an airport pickup, have a car at your door in seven minutes, and you'll see exactly what I mean. (There's also an UberX version that is true peer-to-peer with "regular" people rather than professional drivers who will pick you up for a more modest fee.)
Even though the sharing economy usually refers to a rental economy, maybe it's time for some good old-fashioned sharing, on a free neighbor-to-neighbor basis, that is. After all, people used to regularly share tools, books, and babysitting nights. Why not get creative and set-up a sharing circle with your peers so you don't all have that extra surfboard, sewing machine, or ladder stuck in the garage?
The most creative example of sharing I've ever encountered is my significant other David's dog-sharing arrangement. That's a picture of Scout, David's mixed-breed rescue dog. When David leaves for work, he drops Scout with the couple next door. At the end of the day, he picks up Scout for the night. Among the many advantages, Scout never goes to a kennel (we coordinate vacations) and always has company. Win-win-win.
What can you share that will foster some neighborly connections? Tap into your neighborhood watch, put a flyer up in your local coffee joint, or just spread the word over the back fence!