English · Modern Dilemma

Airbnb Style Relationships in the Apps Age

Welcome to the fun fair of Airbnb styles relationships in an Airbnb economy.

It was the usual scene where champagne circled and caviar was served. While women in their double C logo bags and red soles talked fashion and sipped bubbles, and men in suits on the balcony outside smoked cigars and discussed market prospects. Most of the guest arrived in executive Uber. Some guests were sitting at the corner of the room swiping on dating apps. It was a property launch event, but only a few people took a real look at the off-plan property model. Everyone cultivated pleasantries. Yet no one tried to develop a substantial conversation with each other.

Soon these flats will be bought and become underutilised resources. And people at this event will forget each other after and their under-stimulated conversations. The former isn’t a problem, thanks to the Airbnb economy; and the latter wouldn’t bother anyone either, because we are in an age where everyone can have an Airbnb style relationship with another.

Who’d care about a short stay at someone else’s home, a ride in someone else’s car, a short presence in someone else’s memory? Instead, a lot of us use Airbnb as home. Short term flings or non-committed relationships can come with a snap of the fingers. And love happens if you appear at the right time, right place, and more importantly, in the right car.

It is a known fact that we are in the age of “everyone will be famous for 15 minutes” (in Andy Warhol’s words). And thanks to Airbnb, Uber and Tinder, we will be soon entering the age that everyone will be in “love for 15 minutes”. I wonder if Warhol would frown.

Welcome to the fun fair of Airbnb styles relationships in an Airbnb economy. You no longer know what it’s like to experience lonesome, but instead wonder what it would be like to have a foursome. We become more capable of indulging without guilt, and living in the moment with no strings attached, regardless of the loss of our ability to commit. No one would look at you through a pair of judgmental glasses, because they know that the glasses would also reflect back on themselves.

Nowadays, a lot of us would prefer to have Airbnb style relationships, which can be short but sweet. If it works well, you both had fun and complimented each other. If it turns out to be a bad experience, it won’t cause you heart-ache, you will soon forget and look for the next adventure. Committing to a long let requires so much work. The tenant of the flat will change the flat to suit his or her own tastes. In the end, the tenant may find a new place to rent, but you, as the “flat”, you may not even realise how much you’ve changed, and you just cannot get it back to your original look.

We are all “rented flats” to another person to some extent, someone may leave you and find a new place to live, someone may “purchase” you in the end; but in both cases, they will leave marks on you and make you change. On Airbnb, the more stays and more comments, the hotter the property. But for longer rentals, most people would prefer something new, with someone young.

But if we can have so much fun in an Airbnb-style relationship in the Airbnb economy, why do we still search for true love or marriage? Because end of the day, some of us may still wonder if we can really call Airbnb home, whether the chemistry will fade when you decide to extend your rent, and what you will do at the end of an Uber ride.

Photo of Luning Wang

Luning Wang

Luning is a London-based writer and arts & lifestyle journalist. “Picasso and the Single Girl” is dedicated to the stories and species of the art world, cosmopolitan life, modern dilemma and female brilliance. Luning also consults European brands on their Chinese marketing and media strategies.
Photo of Luning Wang

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