We are hopping into strangers’ cars (Lyft, Sidecar, Uber), welcoming them into our spare rooms (Airbnb), dropping our dogs off at their houses (DogVacay, Rover), and eating food in their dining rooms (Feastly). We are letting them rent our cars (RelayRides, Getaround), our boats (Boatbound), our houses (HomeAway), and our power tools (Zilok). We are entrusting complete strangers with our most valuable possessions, our personal experiences—and our very lives. In the process, we are entering a new era of Internet-enabled intimacy.
We’ve gone from swapping songs on Napster, to buying someone else’s goods on EBay, to renting our goods and services to complete strangers. Except these strangers have Facebook profiles. We can see people and examine track record before we do business with them. The Internet facilitates the sharing economy while the social profile validates it.