How the Sharing Economy Brings Strangers Together

Sharing economy companies encourage personal interactions to improve customer satisfaction and trust among users.
April 26, 2014, 9am PDT | Helen Brown
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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."

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Published on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 in Wired.com
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