what you can do with fancy design and a dash of startup jargon
An innovative new addition to the sharing economy, right?
Or perhaps just plain, old-school slavery, wrapped up in a nice package with vague terms like "empowerment" and "distruption" thrown in to gloss things over
We want to show how a lot of start ups are carrying out what are essentially unfair and unjust practices while packaging them up in wonderfully designed user-friendly apps, complete with plenty of talk of opportunity, possibility, disruption, and empowerment.
Yes, our spoof is extreme and possibly in bad taste. We are presenting one of the worst episodes in human history as a shiny and innovative new practice that empowers all involved. And yes, obviously the sharing economy isn't as horrendous as slavery, but it isn't as empowering as it is made out to be either. Extreme realities require extreme spoofs.
The gig economy is touted as allowing everyone to be an entrepreneur with their labour. But in reality we increasingly have a class of people "empowered" enough to essentially serve wealthier people, especially from the upper middle class living in cosmopolitan metropolises. And to serve without any support, protection, or benefits, leaving them in a vulnerable and precarious situation. Hardly an innovation at all, such practices are merely part of a decades-long trend, except here they are wrapped in the optimistic language of tech culture.
The reality of trying to make ends meet through doing random and menial tasks and renting out your apartment is not that great. One American journalist tried to get by on the gig economy and ending up doing 8-hour jobs for $40 (that's $5 a hour) and making $3.75 an hour to deliver things. Economist Robert Reich calls this the "share-the-scraps economy", his research shows that the sharing economy leaves workers in a precarious situation, without support and benefits, and unclear as to where their next pittace of payment will come from. And some have quite rightly observed that the sharing economy is essentially leading to a class of people serving the wealthier, and that this is even stifling human potential.
Through Mastr.me we want to show what the sharing economy really is: exploitation masquerading as empowerment.
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