The sharing economy. Even if you have never used “Airbnb,” “Uber,” or “Mercari,” most of you are likely to have at least heard of these names. Sharing services have spread rapidly over the past few years, and the sharing economy has established itself firmly in Japan.
“Until now, the only types of human relationship were ‘blood relationships,’ ‘territorial relationships,’ and ‘organizational relationships.’ This began to change significantly with the development of the sharing economy. Consumption activities have changed, from paying money to a company for a service, to paying money to an unknown individual for a service; also, not just money, but services offered in good faith have started to appear as well. The shape of assets has changed, from ‘money’ assets to ‘connection’ assets. We are entering the era of social capital.”
That’s what sharing economy activist Anju Ishiyama says. What needs to be done to gain trust in such an era, when connections with people become assets? We discuss how to meet a lot of people and gain trust.
・Encountering the sharing concept, which “the previous hypothesis led to.”
・Sharing can add value by increasing dependency and psychological wellbeing.
・While the “solving with money” infrastructure is well-established, what would a society be like that could operate without it
・Revealing your true self to gain trust
・First, let’s try to cover the path from consumption to sharing
Born in 1989, a representative of “PublicMeetsInnovation,” which is a think tank for the millennial generation.
Executive Manager, Secretariat, and Public Affairs, Sharing Economy Evangelist, the Cabinet Secretariat, Government of Japan.
Encountering the sharing concept, which “the previous hypothesis led to.”
Ms. Ishiyama carries out a wide range of activities as a sharing economy activist. What was the reason for delving deeper into the concept of sharing?
Ishiyama: “First of all, in terms of my career, I felt a great sense of incongruity from the fact that ‘corporate organizational logic has priority over individual life.’
I joined Recruit as a new graduate and worked as a human resources consultant, carrying out support operations for big corporate clients. In doing this, I saw that the number of positions is determined by events beyond our control, such as economic fluctuations, leading to a situation where 100 people were hired last year, but only 10 people can be recruited this year, or I would be working in Okinawa until yesterday, then suddenly I was transferred to Hokkaido, and I had to leave my family. From the perspective of the individual, there is a feeling of social distortion in such events, where the rationality of the organization is given priority, even over very big issues. I met the concept of ‘sharing’ while thinking about a society where there is freedom to choose from options that don’t depend on an organization, and what kind of infrastructure individuals could choose.
In my private life, my parents managed a shared house, and I felt that people with many personal connections in their home environment live a richer life. Therefore, encountering the concept of ‘sharing’ was also a moment when the hypothesis ‘even if you aren’t bound by a social framework, it is still possible to live if there is a connection among people,’ which I felt in my private life, was affirmed.”
In order to delve deeper into the concept of sharing from there, she made a career change to CrowdWorks, and while deepening her knowledge of the sharing economy, she was recruited by CNET to do serialized writing and began to disseminate information in the context of lifestyle. In recent years, the expansion of the sharing economy in Japan, such as Airbnb, Uber Eats, and Mercari, has been remarkable. Mrs. Ishiyama, who is at the forefront of the sharing economy, has felt certain changes over the last couple of years.
Ishiyama: “Market size data in the sharing economy reveals that the concept of ownership is decreasing among consumers, and the idea that it is ‘better to share than buy’ is increasing. I think that the interest group has expanded considerably over the past one or two years. Up until now, most people in the interest group had an IT antenna, but recently the interest of elderly people and housewives has grown to a high level. Interview requests from newspapers come from the culture and life information departments, not from the economics department. In that sense, I feel that sharing is attracting attention, not only from the aspect of consumption, but also from the ideological perspective, such as ‘supporting and sharing.’”
Sharing can add value by increasing dependency and psychological wellbeing
What are the benefits of using the sharing economy and what value do people create when they interact?
Ishiyama: “In the past, it was said that it is easy for people with communication skills to have connections and social capital, but the sharing economy has led to the ‘democratization of connections,’ and everyone can now increase their human relations and work options. In terms of human relations, it is significant that, in addition to the three contact points of ‘blood relationships,’ ‘territorial relationships,’ and ‘organizational relationships,’ the number of new contact points has increased to include ‘consumption,’ ‘hobbies,’ and ‘values.’ The contact points of consumption and hobbies have been greatly expanded by technology. For example, in the case of the lending and borrowing of soy sauce among neighbors, the development of technology has made it possible to visualize the remaining quantity of soy sauce, not only of neighbors, but also of people living overseas, and instantly connect with those who need it. Lending soy sauce to people living overseas is an extreme example, but it is very valuable to be able to easily lend/borrow, buy/sell, and have joint ownership among individuals in a wide range of cases. Shared housing, ride sharing, etc., can reduce daily living costs by sharing property among individuals, and even if one’s lifeline breaks down, it is possible to cover it by connecting with others.
With the expansion of the sharing range, it has become possible to build new relationships. If you use social media, you can find and connect with people who have similar interests and values. In addition, what was previously just consumer behavior has changed into a connection with people through the sharing economy. You usually don’t become friends with a hotel doorman, but if you stay at a private house, you can communicate with people and connect with them through social media afterwards. Increasing multiple connections leads to increasing your locations, so I think that increasing psychological wellbeing by making choices is the value of the connection among people created by the sharing economy.
In terms of work, earning money without relying on one company has become more popular. Even when people aren’t good at interpersonal communication in a real organization or company, some people can work anonymously online through Cloudworks, etc., and also, for example, a manhole enthusiast, after retirement, can organize two-hour tours explaining manholes. A housewife who is good at cooking meals and cleaning can use ‘Tasukaji’ to connect with people who need these services. Previously, it was hard to get paid by individual units, but by using the sharing economy, it has become possible to take advantage of this as a job.”
Ishiyama: “In this era when there is no right answer and there are many uncertainties about what will happen, I think that the valuable aspect is that there are multiple options. From the perspective of regional regeneration, even in depopulated areas where public services and companies are withdrawing, it would be nice if the safety net could be supplemented by sharing, like, for example, a local person sending his grandma to hospital in a ride share.
In that sense, I hope that sharing will not only become widespread, but also become an alternative way for anyone to enjoy new richness.”
While the “solving with money” infrastructure is well-established, what would a society be like that could operate without it?
In conventional consumption activities, a lot of people who have only received “services in exchange for money” are hesitant about the mechanisms behind a sharing economy made up of “not only money, but services offered in good faith.” However, Mrs. Ishiyama says she is afraid that we are moving toward a society lacking in good faith.
Ishiyama: “In the first place, in modern society, one of the reasons why many people feel ‘uncomfortable around people’ is that it is easier to rely on money than to rely on people, because reciprocity is troublesome.
However, because everything can be solved with money, the relationships among people have become diluted. As a result of relying on the monetary economy for all relationships and consumption, resourcefulness, the ability to judge people, and the ability to build relationships have declined, and this has caused social problems, such as 30,000 people dying alone at home without anyone knowing and 700,000 people isolating themselves from society.”
In modern times, the infrastructure is constructed around “solving with money.” On the other hand, in order to create a society that can live without it, that is, based on resourcefulness and good faith, people who can create relationships on trust are needed. So, how should we build relationships based on trust?
Ishiyama: “The important thing is to accumulate ‘reciprocal’ interactions. Sharing is not ‘Give and Take.’ It is important not to ask to take something in return, but to know the joy of giving.
For example, if I make breakfast for everyone in a shared house, I am happy to make it, and that alone gives me richness. Of course, I’m glad if people are happy in this way, but it is very important that the thought process changes. A long time ago, trust in the system was the most infiltrated aspect. In terms of work, what company does the person work for and what is their annual income? Such a third party’s evaluation determined one’s own status and earned trust.
However, in the future, technology is initiating a change toward ‘distributed trust,’ where the trust of various people, that is, a set of evaluations from individuals, determines their trust. People are going to look at Mercari, ride sharing, and other ratings in the sharing economy to determine whether they can trust a person.”
Revealing your true self to gain trust
Ms. Ishiyama actively utilizes the sharing economy on a daily basis and works with the government in her business; what is she conscious about when seeking to gain trust?
Ishiyama: “I try to reveal my true self as much as possible. Another thing, which is exactly what I’ve been putting into practice with my extended family, is to do it while being aware of how much I’m empathizing with the other people. Even in relationships with people other than blood relatives and love relationships, it is necessary to try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
For example, if a member of the extended family has an accident and has to pay a hospitalization fee of 10 million yen, how much can you contribute from your own wallet? If a person is a victim of sexual harassment on a daily commuter train, to what extent can you have a sense of ownership and put yourself in that person’s place? I think it’s very important to experiment with the mind and train the consciousness.”
Being yourself as much as possible; it’s the same in business.
Ishiyama: “There is no such thing as ‘doing particular things to gain trust, because the other party is the government,’ but in all business scenarios, to borrow words from Mr. Yokoishi’s book ‘Self-introduction 2.0,’ I realize that we can gain trust only by communicating our vision.
For example, even if I say to a politician, ‘I want to popularize ride sharing,’ I will get turned away at the door, so I say ‘I want to help old ladies in depopulated areas that have little public transportation,’ or ‘I don’t want to promote ride sharing as a business, but I want to create a sharing economy because I want to solve problems in Japan.’ Another thing is sharing in real life, and whether this leads to trust. A vision is thinking about it purely as it is, and the way that one acts is material for others to use to judge trustworthiness.”
First, let’s try to cover the path from consumption to sharing
Even though the sharing economy is spreading, there may be a lot of people who are concerned and reluctant to build relationships with resourcefulness and good faith. “Sharing is just an option, so it is not necessary to do it forcibly,” says Mrs. Ishiyama. However, if you are a beginner in the sharing economy who feels concerned but still want to undertake the challenge, where should you start?
Ishiyama: “First, let’s start with comfortable human relations. It is troublesome to be forced to get along with people in a company, but in many cases, you can exchange information and create connections if you have the same hobbies and preferences. First, determine the areas where you can get along with people and create human relations from there. If you deepen your relationships there, you may be able to help each other when something happens.
If you want to use a sharing service, start with consumption. Stay at a private house instead of a hotel, use a ride share instead of a taxi. It’s a good idea to start here.”
・Sharing is attracting attention not only from the aspect of consumption, but also from the ideological aspect of “support and sharing.”
・The “democratization of connections” allows people to have multiple options, such as human relations, work, and locations, which has improved psychological wellbeing.
・The form of “trust” has begun to change to “distributed trust,” where one’s trust is determined by a set of ratings from individuals.
・In order to gain “trust,” it is effective to show yourself as you are.
・The first step is to start having comfortable relationships in places other than your workplace or organization.