I will share my morning coffee. I will share my sandwich for lunch. I will not share my toothbrush. Now, now. That shouldn’t be a surprise.
I will share good news. I will share a laugh. I will share your confidence… and naturally, guard your privacy.
I am a generous woman. (Or so I have been told.) Of course, there are limits. (Aren’t there always?)
The Limits of Generosity
I will not share my shoes – not the peep-toe pumps, not the slouchy boots – though I may say à bientôt to the ten dollar slides from Tar-gét, however comfy.
I will not share my books, with very few exceptions. I never let a beloved tome out of my sight, as my experience has been, sadly, that books are rarely returned – only to become like long-lost friends.
I will share my favorite scarves. I will share my fashionable gloves. I will not share my luxe lingerie purchased in Paris, with its impeccable support, its elegant lace, and its “je ne sais quoi.”
I will not share my bed except with the man I love, though once it was shared with two scruffy, giggling boys for stories or solace, and a sloppy, lovable 70-pound mutt.
Wait. I may need to revise that last with regard to the sleeping arrangements. After all, one never knows as we are increasingly living in a sharing economy.
The Sharing Economy
It seems the American public is no longer convinced we must own everything we use; we are turning to “regular people” for places to stay (rather than hotels), for ways to get around (rather than owning our own cars), and for a means to tackle chores and errands (rather than more exclusive options). In the sharing economy, we are service providers with assets and skills we might otherwise not have considered; we are the customers of others like ourselves.
The New York Times recently described the sharing economy in this way:
… the sharing economy… sites and apps connect people seeking services with sellers of those services…
It is comprised of both businesses and independent contractors who may supplement their earnings by, for example:
providing… skills, time or property to consumers in search of a lift, a room to sleep in, a dry-cleaning pickup, a chef, an organizer of closets.
Financial Pros, Financial Woes
As I consider the pros, woes, and flows of the sharing economy, naturally I think of high-end fashions and those who will essentially “lease” a gown for a period of time. Isn’t this what upscale resale shops have done for years? Isn’t this preferable to laying down thousands of dollars for a single outing? Isn’t this a fabulous means to an end – for the perfect but pricey Little Black Dress – destined for just one soirée?
Upscale boutiques aside, the breadth of goods and services in “gig” mode is telling; we cannot and should not forget the circumstances of many sellers: strained resources, lack of jobs, and an unstable economy. As The Times explains, those who provide these services…
… often work seven-day weeks, trying to assemble a living wage from a series of one-off gigs. They have little recourse when the services for which they are on call change their business models or pay rates.
The Sharing Mindset, the “Gig” Economy
If the sharing economy continues to grow as predicted, I say we are the better for it. Isn’t it encouraging community and reducing waste, while offering benefits to enterprising consumers and sellers?
Still, we must not forget the underlying issues, however positively we spin the so-called solutions. I offer a few statistics, courtesy of the article in The Times:
… If these [sharing] marketplaces are gaining traction with workers… it is because many people who can’t find stable employment feel compelled to take on ad hoc tasks. In July , 9.7 million Americans were unemployed, and an additional 7.5 million were working part-time jobs because they could not find full-time work…
While not explicitly an issue of the sharing economy, this column in The New York Times addresses the aging population around us, and offers examples in residential Manhattan high-rises of caring for older neighbors. I see it as a “sharing of the heart” mindset, if you will.
Joanne Kaufman describes one building’s policies wherein they maintain:
… a list of elderly residents who use canes, walkers or wheelchairs or who have special needs…
And, they check on the residents if a neighbor suggests there may be a need. Isn’t this a marvelous application of the principles of the sharing economy, though it may more appropriately be viewed as community caring, or possibly paying it forward?
Sharing Online – Too Much or Just Enough?
We share our lives through online reading and writing – thanks to our favorite media outlets, our blogs, our feeds. Some of us share what we love – musings on style, society, sexuality.
Some of us share our family lives, our challenges, our triumphs. We feel comfortable doing so within small circles, or we may feel utterly at ease with a broader audience.
You may practice a level of sharing that isn’t for me; and my degree of transparency may not be for you. Online sharing is its own complex economic system – though most of us are not in it for the dollars but as consumers, and as a creative outlet.
Sometimes, the most difficult sharing is with those who are closest to us, face-to-face. We struggle to communicate in the most effective ways – worried about what to say and when, afraid to be vulnerable if we express too much, subject to power plays in what was once a thriving partnership. Relationships risk becoming transactional in the driest sense of the word as we find ourselves in this unfortunate place: I will not share my sweetest dreams, I will not share my deepest fears, I will not share my truest self.
Shouldn’t we dare another path – one that features our best possible selves to those who reasonably might expect it? Could we use the example of the sharing economy to remind us of the importance of people – in every equation of real value?
Stop by and visit more writing on the subject of “sharing” at Splenderosa, By Invitation Only.
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