Last year I had my first experience with Airbnb, an online community marketplace that lets you rent accommodations from local hosts in 190 different countries.
While studying abroad, I did some independent traveling and needed an inexpensive place to stay in Barcelona. I met Victoria through her listing on Airbnb, and two weeks later found myself sitting with her in her living room, sipping coffee, and speaking in broken Spanglish. Victoria taught me how to use her espresso machine, welcomed me to use her various bathroom products, and placed clean towels on top of my freshly made bed. I came and went as I pleased, sometimes inviting her along and sometimes just taking her spare key with me.
Here I was, a guest in a complete stranger’s home, with the key to every possession she owned in the pocket of my purse. This was a business transaction rooted in mutual respect, trust, and kindness. More than that, it was a business model that reflected the traditional characteristics of friendship, made possible by the amazing capabilities of the Internet.
In the past few years I’ve come to understand a new set of unspoken rules around how we socially interact with each other. As we navigate communication in the digital age, there are more channels to chose from than ever before, but ironically, the less you engage with someone you’re interested in, the more power you possess.
Sending a direct Snapchat to someone raises eyebrows. Liking an Instagram someone uploaded a week previously is unheard of. And when it comes to dating, we are to act aloof. Don’t text first. Don’t put too many emojis. Definitely, definitely don’t call. There is a strange power in silence.
It’s the game of “who cares less,” and how you win is to not engage.