And so we come to the end of the series. There are a multitude of ways to share our belongings, to share our stuff, to share our work and our ideas. This also counts for our homes.
ET phone home?
But this is also the most difficult one to share. Home is an incredibly fragile concept. For a lot of people it is based on a location. It’s a place to feel safe and warm, a place to feel welcome. It’s place to feel protected. Sharing your home is not an easy decision to make and yet it is central to our way of thinking and to how our economy functions.
We own our homes. We rent them, we pay for them in mortgages. The mortgages are granted by banks who profit from these deals greatly. Although there are voices stating that plenty of banks back up their mortgage deals with a mix of real and imaginary (or ‘multiplied’) money. Back in the 60’s a home owner even won a court case when a bank tried to foreclose his house based on this insight.
The concept of mortgage shows how far we’re willing to go to own our homes. It’s ours and no one else can enter without our permission. This might not feel silly to you, but why are our homes considered property? Why does anyone unfamiliar to us seem like an intruder invading our most private of spaces? Do we have to wield off countless thieves, murderers and con-men? Why is our concept of home about possession? Are we unwilling to share our home?
Not so much. Just look at the success of Airbnb. This website has grown into a multi million dollar industry in a matter of years. Apparently people are not as scared to let strange people stay in their houses if the price is right. This does however create an enormous tension with and old tourism industry model based on privatized hotel rooms and housing.
But Airbnb does change our mindsets. Our house doesn’t have to just be the place we stay closed off from outsiders. We can rent it out even if for a weekend while we are away. It’s one of the deeper forms of trust: entrust a stranger with your house.
Surf that Couch
People can go even further. With Couchsurfing it doesn’t even revolve around money. It’s one of most altruistic ways of communication: Letting people in your house without asking money in return. It takes guts to do this in a system that teaches us that people are inherently bad and will abuse you if you give them the opportunity and facilities. Of course you shouldn’t be naïve as thieves are also starting to realize the potential of this medium.
But the web is doing a pretty good job thus far filtering out these opportunists. The peer review system seems to be very effective in taking out the bad seeds and policing a safe environment. This system of social control seems to work very well for both these online platforms and for many others like it. It’s like an online and actually active neighbourhood watch!
Couch surfing also counters these negative attitudes by granting a great sense of global citizenship to know you can be part of a community of strangers that will invite you into their homes wherever you may find yourself based on who you are and not how much you can pay.
But it also works the other way around. It’s not just about sharing our own place. There are flaws in a system that creates rigid borders between our homes and the outside world.
Just think about our senior citizens. With younger generations becoming busier and busier an old generation is becoming more isolated.
The show was watched by almost 3 million people reaching it’s conclusion. The show was revealed to be a way to make senior citizen social isolation and loneliness visible. Especially with a bigger segment of our population sliding into their senior years this is becoming and increasingly hot topic.
It’s sad that as a society we stash away our senior citizens in senior homes waiting for them to go to the other side. We give them a plant and drop by every so often. Aren’t there more creative ways of defining home? Of creating more connections? Can we find ways to share their homes instead of creating twilight zones where time does not pass?
Especially in these times senior citizens can still be of great help to society even if they are not as mobile. It’s a matter of time before a few smart concepts will make proper use of this and create more ways to extend senior citizens homes in different ways. For instance there is a nice website, Samen Online, that connects senior citizens with youngsters so seniors can become more agile and effective in their online presence.
Another way might be Samen Eten. People, who find AirBnB and Couchsurfing a rather big step, can take it slow by inviting people over to share their dinner. Hop over to a neighbour with great cooking skills or motivate yourself to cook by inviting a couple of people over!
All of these online platforms are possible fora to create a different ways of thinking about homes and sharing our private space.
Sharing is caring y’all!
With economic hardships taking place in a larger segment of the world we should stop trying to hold on to a system that seems apathic to our needs and values us as consumers, workforce and competitors. We are more than that.
It’s our ability to share that has the potential to change and innovate our economic system. It’s our ability to share that will get us through the hard times. It’s our ability to share that can make life such a rich experience.
So in short:
You better share, bitch!