Collaborative consumption. It’s a big idea that’s being discussed as the most “thought-provoking sector of 2012” in The Economist and was identified by Time as one of the 10 ideas that will change the world. Not sure what I’m talking about? There’s a great video on TechCrunch TV that explains it all.

My takeaways:

  • Experiences > tangible stuff
  • Access > ownership
  • Community > individual

Technically, collaborative consumption should work. We have the technology to make it work. We have the incentives (save money, save the planet, etc.) to make it work, and god knows we have more than enough stuff to go around. It’s a great idea and all but I’m still a bit hesitant to jump on the bandwagon. I have no problem using sites like Kijiji, but I’ll pick Expedia over Airbnb every time… I’ll attribute this to the sense of ‘security’ I get from interacting with ‘legitimate’ businesses.

Maybe the problem here is my attachment to my beloved stuff. It’s just a _______ (fill in the blank with generic item that you don’t really care all that much about). I bet I couldn’t even name half the things I have sitting around at home. But am I attached to them? You bet. And no, I’m not some weirdo hoarder surrounded by everything they’ve ever purchased over the course of their lifetime. It’s just the by-product of living in a materialistic society where the concept of self-identity is still heavily based in materialism. John “Cool Car” Doe, I’m looking at you.

If collaborative consumption is going to catch on, we as a society will need to start trusting each other. Sure the idea of lending cars and pricey electronics to strangers may warrant a few concerns – What if they damage it? What if they never return it? What if… what if… what if…  But what if we never open our eyes to what else is possible? By all means the status quo is pretty good. After all, who doesn’t love paying huge bills and having lots of unused stuff lying around? It’s your call.