How the Sharing Economy Brings Strangers Together

Sharing economy companies encourage personal interactions to improve customer satisfaction and trust among users.

Jason Tanz reports on how the sharing economy (Lyft, Uber, etc.) is bringing strangers together in this "new era of Internet-enabled intimacy."

While the internet has challenged the geographically-bound definition of a community and allowed us to connect without being in physical contact with each other, the new wave of sharing economy is increasingly "link[ing] individuals and communities in the physical world." As John Zimmer, the cofounder of Lyft comments: "I think people are craving real human interaction—it’s like an instinct. We now have the opportunity to use technology to help us get there."

Sharing economy companies have gained people's trust in each other by encouraging more "face-to-face" interactions, linking to virtual identities, supervising online activities, and creating an experience where "the commerce feels almost secondary, an afterthought to the human connection that undergirds the entire experience." Encouraging users to meet in person has resulted in "higher satisfaction rates," customers who took better care of each others' properties, "fewer damage claims," and "it made the experience better for both parties."

In this way, sharing economy is bringing back the experience of a "pre-industrial society, when our relationships and identities—social capital, to use the lingo—mattered just as much as the financial capital we had to spend."

Full Story: How Airbnb and Lyft Finally Got Americans to Trust Each Other

Comments

Build Your Own Paper Block City

Urban Fold is an all-inclusive kit that allows anyone to build the city of their dreams with a few simple folds.
$24.95
building block set

NEW! Build the world you want to see

Irresistible block set for adults when placed on a coffee table or desk, and great fun for kids.
$25
Book cover of Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Featuring thought-provoking commentary and insights from some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the field.
$18.95

Stay thirsty, urbanists

These sturdy water bottles are eco-friendly and perfect for urbanists on the go.
$19.00