There are a lot of things is this life that we really only need once in a while. Even the things we consider our most prized possessions, in my case books, are something we only crack open every once and a while. Sure there are some books you might look at every day, but I could literally run a library from my house and not miss anything that was gone.
And what about tools? There are all sorts of household jobs that require a specific kind of equipment that you maybe do once a year. Or how about computer stuff? I have an IDE-USB adapter for taking data off of really old desktop drives and transferring it to another computer. I’ve used it maybe about five times (total) and it cost me about $18. What if I could have just borrowed it, or at least lent it to somebody else who needed it?
That’s the idea behind Peerby.com, a business started in the Netherlands. It’s an app that lets you borrow stuff from your neighbors and it’s launching in 50 U.S. cities in 2015 (and I’m pretty sure Columbus is one of them) though there only seems to be one person in my immediate vicinity signed up for the service so they better have some cool stuff.
Truthfully, I’m not sure if this is the kind of thing I’d ever be comfortable with. It does seem reasonably secure in the sense that it doesn’t just give you a list of all the valuable things people have in your area, but it still seems like a good way to get robbed, have your stuff get damaged or worse.
I’ll admit part of this is that I like the idea of lending stuff to people in theory, but not really in practice. I like knowing where my stuff is. Sure there are some things I care about less than others, but then it gets into this whole thing of how long do you let someone borrow something until you ask if they’re done with it, and what if you end up really needing the thing while they have it, etc.
But another thing is I’ve always felt this is what friends are for. The idea of Peerby is to work in neighborhoods, but it’s a little sad that we know each other so little that we have to be hooked up randomly by an app just to find a backpack or a grill or a power washer (which I have one and it’s really kind of fun. I grunted like Tim Taylor on Home Improvement the first time I used one, much to my wife’s dismay).
My solution to this has been very simple and it makes my life somewhat less cluttered, though admittedly still pretty cluttered. If I don’t need something anymore, I sell it or give it to Goodwill. Or I try to find somebody who needs it. You can’t take any of this stuff with you, and I live in a nice but kind of small house, and sometimes I need the shelf-space.
You know where this would be great? Churches, or some other community group that met once a week. During the announcements somebody mentions they need something, and someone in the congregation says they have it. Done and done, and without the third party tracking.
I realize that some of these tech posts make me sound like a Luddite, but as someone who works in the computer industry I am the first to tell you that not all problems can be solved by technology. They can be solved by the best kind of social media, face to face interaction.
Though if someone ever wants to lend me a dremel for my dog’s nails, you let me know when you want it back. I have a feeling he’s going to be just as much a baby about it as he is with the clippers, but he is scratching me even through jeans!
What do you guys think, would you lend your stuff to strangers through a service like this?