The Brains and the Bodies

This morning Chris sent me this article. I don’t know how to feel about this. No, I do. This saddens me.

I am busy. I work part time at Saint Louis University. I run a non-profit. I am working on my dissertation for my Ph.D. I have 2 kids: 1 being very young, and the other being heavily involved in dance and music, so I also play taxi 5 of the 7 days in a week. I do the brunt of the childcare, household management, and housework.

With as busy as I am, I could not imagine hiring someone to help lighten my load.

Some parts of this sharing economy are wonderful. For example, Chris and I enjoyed using AirBnB for our honeymoon and we’d totally use it again. Other services make me wonder if people are getting their fair share. This story from NPR provides a few examples and tidbits about the sharing economy. Most experiences are positive, but is this just from the users side? Again I wonder what the agents are getting.

Even now, when women outnumber men in the formal workplace, they continue to bear the brunt of that invisible domestic work, often for many, many hours a week. So women — those who can afford it, at least — have the most to win from passing that load on to somebody else…

75% of Alfreds are women

What does this say to the rest of society about domestic work? Women still have to get it done. Now we are ordering people through an app to take care of the boring, messy bits of life. Likely, the person fulfilling your needs will be a woman. Does she get paid what she should for such integral work?

How will this erode as time goes on? What sort of implications does the sharing economy mean for the future economy?

I am befuddled by ordering life through an app. While I do not enjoy doing some things in life, it is part of being human.

Another bicycle messenger showed me in his phone’s settings how the app could track him at all hours, which he found Orwellian. He talked for a few minutes about how he’s just doing this part-time between creative gigs, and hoped to get out soon. Before we finished talking, his app flashed a message: “Let’s move!” and he pushed off.

I have no desire to work more than 40 hours a week. I am an extremely productive employee. No one should regularly work more than 40 hours a week. Either the demands are too great, or the productivity too low. I love my career, but it is work to live, not live to work. I hope to never have an app tell me, “Let’s move!” I wish others didn’t as well.