Yes, ride-sharing services are convenient. But you really should think before pressing the button.
Cellphones have just given us so much — everyone has all the information they need — but there's a dark side to it, too. They've also given us this sense of freedom that isn't really free, too many choices and a false sense of security.
Take ride-sharing services: No one, just a few years ago, would have gotten in an unmarked car with a stranger who promised to take them somewhere. But since there's an app, and we use apps for everything now, we think that it's safe.
But almost anybody can be an Uber driver or a Lyft driver — that's how they sell themselves to potential drivers. And they don't go through the same kind of background checks as taxi drivers or other car services do, so you're not getting the caliber of driver you would get somewhere else. Then you read all the stories about sexual assaults in the news, for instance, and you can't help but stop and think about what you're doing, getting into cars with strangers.
Plus, if you use ride-sharing services, you might think that you're contributing to the welfare of the drivers, but that's not even true: The drivers aren't even taken care of by these companies. They're hired as third party providers and so the companies don't take any responsibility for them. They don't get health care, they're not subject to minimum wage laws, they don't get sick time, none of that.
There is some naïveté, but they are also actively being sold a dream that will never come true. People are trying to make a little extra money in this gig economy, where we can be a massage therapist by day and an Uber driver by night, and work for an app here and an app there, and the companies are taking advantage of people's dreams and their financial instability.
You have to take all this into consideration when you're sending Uber to pick up your kids to bring them to soccer practice or to pick them up late at night at a friend's house (not that you're supposed to be in an Uber as a kid, but it happens all the time), and not just press a button because it's convenient. Public transport might really be the best thing to use for all sorts of reasons; New York is fantastic for that. But wherever you are, there's often a lot of options.
It's a new world, and you have to be much more cautious, not less cautious.
As told to THINK editor Megan Carpentier, edited and condensed for clarity.
Pamela Anderson is an actor, model, activist and author whose latest book is "Lust for Love: Rekindling Intimacy and Passion in Your Relationship."