Gig-Economy Apps Are Changing Friendship.
Gig-economy apps affect more than the economy—they’re changing what it means to be a friend.
My first job as a TaskRabbit was easy. A woman who lived in my Brooklyn neighborhood needed someone to wait in her apartment, just a 10-minute walk from mine, for her new bed to be delivered while she was at work. For around $20 an hour, I sat in her kitchen typing on my laptop and hoping the delivery guys would arrive at the end of the window so I’d make more money. I cannot believe I’m getting paid to do this, I thought. I was in luck: I left $72.45 richer.
Afterward, the client offered to take me out for a glass of wine as a thank-you. That would be great! I texted back, and I meant it, sort of. It was a nice gesture, and I liked the idea of getting to know one of my neighbors, but the premise for getting drinks also struck me as odd. This wasn’t a favor between friends—I’d been paid for my time. We never actually met up.
Gig-economy apps like TaskRabbit, Rover, Uber, Postmates, and others promised to revolutionize the future of work. But they’re also changing our concept of community — and not in the idealized way some startups sell, where hiring a neighbor to run an errand or “hosting” strangers in our spare bedrooms is supposed to bring us closer together.