Tolentino (2017). The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself to Death.

Tolentino, J. (2017, March 22). The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself to Death. The New Yorker. Retrieved from

“Within the ghoulishly cheerful Lyft public-relations machinery, Mary is an exemplar of hard work and dedication — the latter being, perhaps, hard to come by in a company that refuses to classify its drivers as employees. … an ‘exciting’ example of how seamless and flexible app-based employment can be.” (¶ 4)

“Or maybe Mary kept accepting riders because the gig economy has further normalized the circumstances in which earning an extra eleven dollars can feel more important than seeking out the urgent medical care that these quasi-employers do not sponsor. In the other version of Mary’s story, she’s an unprotected worker in precarious circumstances. … ‘… that Lyft, for some reason, thought that this would reflect kindly on them is perhaps the most horrifying part.'” (¶ 5)

“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.” (¶ 8)

“… Nathanael West, in 1934, to publish the novel ‘A Cool Million,’ which satirized the Horatio Alger bootstrap fables … Morris Dickstein, in his book ‘Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression,’ notes, ‘The novel ends with Lem as a vaudeville clown being beaten nightly until he simply falls apart.’ A former President named Shagpoke Whipple gives a speech valorizing Pitkin’s fate, extolling ‘the right of every American boy to go into the world and … make his fortune by industry.’ Whipple describes Pitkin’s dismemberment — ‘lovingly,’ Dickstein adds — and tells his audience that, through Pitkin’s hard work and enthusiastic martyrdom, ‘America became again American.’ (¶ 9)

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