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Posts Tagged ‘motivational bullshit’

“Fiverr, which had raised a hundred and ten million dollars in venture
capital by November, 2015, has more about the “In Doers We Trust”
campaign on its Web site. In one video, a peppy female voice-over urges
“doers” to “always be available,” to think about beating “the trust-fund
kids,” and to pitch themselves to everyone they see, including their
dentist. A Fiverr press release about “In Doers We Trust” states, “The
campaign positions Fiverr to seize today’s emerging zeitgeist of
entrepreneurial flexibility, rapid experimentation, and doing more with
less. It pushes against bureaucratic overthinking, analysis-paralysis,
and excessive whiteboarding.” This is the jargon through which the
essentially cannibalistic nature of the gig economy is dressed up as an
aesthetic. No one wants to eat coffee for lunch or go on a bender of
sleep deprivation—or answer a call from a client while having sex, as
recommended in the video. It’s a stretch to feel cheerful at all about
the Fiverr marketplace, perusing the thousands of listings of people who
will record any song, make any happy-birthday video, or design any book
cover for five dollars. I’d guess that plenty of the people who
advertise services on Fiverr would accept some “whiteboarding” in
exchange for employer-sponsored health insurance.

At the root of this is the American obsession with self-reliance,
which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working
himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to
death is evidence of a flawed economic system. The contrast between the
gig economy’s rhetoric (everyone is always connecting, having fun, and
killing it!) and the conditions that allow it to exist (a lack of
dependable employment that pays a living wage) makes this kink in our
thinking especially clear. Human-interest stories about the beauty of
some person standing up to the punishments of late capitalism are
regular features in the news, too. I’ve come to detest the local-news
set piece about the man who walks ten or eleven or twelve miles to
work—a story that’s been filed from Oxford, Alabama; from Detroit,
Michigan; from Plano, Texas. The story is always written as a
tearjerker, with praise for the person’s uncomplaining attitude; a car
is usually donated to the subject in the end. Never mentioned or even
implied is the shamefulness of a job that doesn’t permit a worker to
afford his own commute.”

Jia Tolentino, “The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself to Death.” The New Yorker, March 22, 2017.

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