In his article, “The Sharing Economy Isn’t About Trust, It’s About Desperation,” Kevin Roose highlights some tragic facts about what Silicon Valley touts as their latest and greatest so-called innovation:
A huge precondition for the sharing economy has been a depressed labor market, in which lots of people are trying to fill holes in their income by monetizing their stuff and their labor in creative ways. In many cases, people join the sharing economy because they’ve recently lost a full-time job and are piecing together income from several part-time gigs to replace it. In a few cases, it’s because the pricing structure of the sharing economy made their old jobs less profitable. (Like full-time taxi drivers who have switched to Lyft or Uber.) In almost every case, what compels people to open up their homes and cars to complete strangers is money, not trust.
To understand why the sharing economy is thriving now, it’s worth taking a look at how many full-time jobs have been replaced by part-time jobs since the recession of 2008:
More telling is what’s happened to real wages, which have fallen for middle- and low-income people since the recession:
Add to this the fact that 3.7 million Americans are long-term unemployed (meaning they haven’t had a job in the last six months), and the rise of the sharing economy makes total sense. When wages fall and full-time jobs are hard to get, workers seek out flexible part-time gigs to sustain themselves while they look for something better.
This isn’t “sharing.” At best, it’s bartering. Which is, of course, exactly why Silicon Valley shitwads call it “sharing,” in the same way Facebook calls them your “friends.” Slavery is freedom, citizens.
Every time I see a story like this, I get pissed off that they’ll mention AirB&B, the monetized bed-and-breakfast service, but not CouchSurfing, the free hospitality exchange network that existed for years and years before AirB&B was ever first conceived. Wikipedia describes a “hospitality service” as:
centrally organized social networks of individuals, generally travelers, who offer or seek accommodation without monetary exchange. These services generally connect users via the internet.
Uber, task rabbit, air&BB ect a) Perfect competition for the serfs b) Monopoly for us| network effects c) Unregulated| we just match people
— stop the cyborgs (@stopthecyborgs) April 15, 2014
There’s another layer to the story, here. Quite simply, the “sharing economy” isn’t a good thing because it’s still an economy, and economies are inherently trust-removing technologies.
After all, it is in the interests of rich Silicon Valley elites to advance a rhetoric whose premise is that unemployed people should “get a job (or a gig)” so they can take care of themselves, rather than enacting an ethos that says we should all stop having jobs so that we can spend more time taking care of each other.