User safety is a communal effort

Lexikay Stokes, Campus Carrier Opinions Editor

Hearing of the passing of the young University of South Carolina student, who died at the hands of a man she mistakenly thought to be her Uber driver, my fears and disappointment of our society were only solidified. I feel as if something like this tragedy should be avoidable.

This isn’t an isolated incident, however. Cases like this have made headlines before and the only thing we’re told to do is be more vigilant. As users of a service such as Uber, is it really our job to constantly be on the lookout for potential threats? To live in such a way that you are always checking the validity and security of your surroundings sounds tiring. The lack of trust in our society can easily be blamed on incidents such as this most recent murder in South Carolina and other horror stories passed through Facebook shared stories and worried parents calling their children every time something like this happens. It’s a frustrating existence in a world where not everyone holds the same respect and honor of other people’s lives. It feels almost intrinsic to want everyone to be safe, strangers and loved ones alike. When that normalcy, that perceived social understanding, is fractured, reconciliation feels impossible.

I truly wish there was some sort of systematic assuredness when using resources like Uber, Airbnb and Lyft. The truth however is that there is no corporate responsibility. The companies themselves don’t claim their drivers or their hosts as legitimate employees. The services we as consumers take advantage of are only as reputable as the review’s others give, not through company promises. I mean, a background check can only tell of the documented criminal history of a person, not their true intentions or morality. This leaves users with plenty of room for speculation and fear.

I have experienced this fear personally through using these types of services myself. I also have been reminded of this fear through worried texts and calls from my mom checking in on the safety and trustworthiness of my Airbnb hosts and making sure I always check the license plates of my Uber drivers when traveling. When we as users log into an app, order a car or book a house for vacation, we are putting an immense amount of trust into complete strangers to maintain our well-being. In a perfect world this trust would be upheld without problem. But as I’m sure we are all aware, our world is far from perfect. It’s in that brokenness that tragedies such as the recent murder in South Carolina.

We can only do so much as consumers to guarantee our personal safety. You can check license plates, car models, profiles etc. It’s a joint effort, however. As for the companies we so casually use nowadays, they must have stricter regulations for users and especially providers of services which these companies so readily don’t take responsibility for.

If companies were to claim their providers as actual employees, there would be a lot more validity and security in who they were hiring. As for the providers themselves, drivers who pick us up and home owners who we rent from, we can only hope and trust in the morality of those we are riding with or renting with. This feels like a blind trust, one which has failed time and time again. However, we can’t live entirely in fear. Resources like Uber are incredibly resourceful and beneficial. I just advise to take caution and be proactive next time you order a car.

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