This is a bit of a rant, but I think it is a decent look into why I can’t take this “sharing economy” bullshit seriously.
In 2009 the transportation industry and many others changed forever.
Apple had opened up the wondrous world of their latest masterpiece, the iPhone, to software developers. For those few of you who missed it this was the beginning of the APP generation.
Taxi Magic and Cabulous swooped onto the scene covering both the already GPS based taxi dispatch market and creating the direct driver to passenger (iPhone to iPhone) business model.
This was a game changer. Boy oh boy did it blow up in the coming years. People were using the apps so much that they would frequently overload the supply in certain areas of town at certain times. Cab drivers loved the app orders because the passengers were usually there and could be expected to be high income and good tippers. One major issue was how people were never really told how to use the apps most effectively and instead would use them at the ballpark or the bar at 2am. Some just didn’t care about using them the right way, they just wanted a ride and know for sure it was coming. The inconvenience of opening one’s eyes, lifting an arm and flagging a taxi like an adult was suddenly passé. More smartphones at cheaper prices eventually overloaded the taxi fleets and resulted in the customer ultimately being their own worst enemy for service reliability. The dispatchers at the cab companies had a heck of a time trying to keep the app orders fresh because they were coming in so fast and there just were not enough cabs to take all the orders. While the industry was on the right track, regulatory changes are slow and cab companies do not have huge profits for technological upgrades, the stage was being set for the coming storm.
Meanwhile, other apps proliferated at insane rates, the new tech gold rush in full swing.
Apps that increasingly did nothing more than making whatever the young person desires able to be called up at a moments notice.
I need to do my laundry… Fixed exuberantly by one app.
I need to know where to park… Fixed with publicly funded joy by another.
I need a fart sound maker… Fixed by more apps than I can think of.
I need to send a dick pic that will self destruct… Of course this was solved by a college kid with an app.
I need a ride now… Fixed now by a multitude of apps, all claiming they are not the supposedly terrible thing they are emulating, taxis. With the most of the SAME DRIVERS and worse cars with even less oversight and insurance.
Each “problem” fixed almost as swiftly by the next app, and another, and another, and another, and another, ad infinitum.
As Madison Ave put it so well: “There’s an App for that.”
For every possible human problem there is an app that could solve the malady like a traveling miracle cure salesman. Or at least thats what the tech companies would have you believe. Or that the next app will make life better or greener for the world. Buzz words like “sustainable” being bandied about describing things clearly the opposite. Obviously it was no big surprise that the “me” generation, the millennials, would eat this line of bullshit right up.
Now don’t get me wrong, as a genX kid with distinct scientific leanings and innate geekiness built in, I should be the last one to criticize anyone who makes it possible for me to be more lazy. When I was young I would fantasize about clicking a button and having something happen. The Jetsons, Neuromancer and Ender’s Game were some of my benchmarks for what I could expect or hopefully expect to see before I died. But here I am. Ready to drop the bomb on your poor psyche that this wonderful thing you love… is not what you think it is.
The Sharing Economy is really not “sharing” anything other than profits.
The word “sharing” implies not paying for what you are “sharing” or getting paid to share it. Once you get paid for goods or services that makes it a sale or leasehold. Financial transactions. The only sharing of anything is the fact that both parties are now sharing their money with a corporation for something they can (and should) give each other for free. The business model of the so called “sharing economy” is only contributing to the income inequality problem, exploiting the vulnerable and desperate while undermining labor rights.
We are talking some seriously bad side effects coming down the line.
How is this possible, you ask… Why, pray, how could something so well intentioned for the clear betterment of society be so bad. So destructive. It’s not possible to make something as wonderful sounding as “collaborative consumption” be a negative thing, is it?
“Sharing economy” companies, as friendly as they may seem, are as equally sinister as big corporations can get. They profit from creating a financial transaction where there was none before and inserting themselves as the middlemen. They are too arrogant or genuinely and purposefully blind to the fact that their ways will ultimately not “change the world” or “make the world a better place”. Yeah they might be “shaking up” an industry that admittedly was overdue for a technological renaissance. Sadly though if the “shake up” is not reigned in soon, we the people will lose actual recourse in favor of a promo code or gift certificate followed up with a hollow “we’ll look into that”. At least you can call a human and vent when you have a bad experience in a proper licensed taxi or have the hotel manager swap you to a room with a working toilet.
Lets look at some examples of the “sharing” economy services being offered to the consumer:
– On-demand transportation booking
– Convenient on-demand car rental
– Equipment rental
– Temporary labor rental
Now lets look at those same things with what they are in reality:
– Taxi hailing (minus the taxes to the city to maintain the streets and giving the same funds to a venture capitalist)
– borrowing a neighbor/friend’s car (if that friend is asking you to pay someone else and them for the privilege)
– borrowing your neighbor’s drill (only to give them a deposit on credit card and pay a few bucks to some more venture capitalists)
– picking up day laborers for a one day job (why help an immigrant feed his family when you can order a young eager 20’some like you to help you put that desk together; you can even put it on daddy’s amex card giving a few bucks to yet one more venture capitalist.)
Seeing a pattern yet?
Let’s look at some older big corporations and see how they compare.
Coca Cola and Pepsi didn’t try to sell you on them saving the world did they?
Coca Cola and Pepsi just went about bettering the world anyway they could without making pronouncements about it, before they even did. Don’t believe me? Look into how Coca Cola and Pepsi supply chains have helped get medicine and food into areas inaccessible to aid workers and NGOs.
Oil companies spend millions of dollars telling the world how they are helping the environment and restoring habitats while they rake in billions in tax free profits from doing the exact opposite 1000 miles away. They shouldn’t need to tell you. They should show with their actions.
Are you beginning to see the problem here?
Companies that bandy about words like “sharing”, “disruption” and “making the world better” are really there just to generate yet one more income stream for the 1%. Milking your wallet more without you being any the wiser. Even better, they make you feel good about giving them your money (and rights) whether you are a customer or worker. They are showing with their actions that their words are meaningless, Lyft and Uber leading the charge.
The “sharing” economy is only “caring” about profits at any cost. I am pretty sure we enacted parts of the Bill of Rights to protect us from predatory behavior like this by the government, what makes you think giving up those rights to a predatory big corporation is any better?
Because we call it “sharing”, “community”, “sustainable” or “nascent” all due to it being self proclaimed to as such?
How is that fundamentally any different than giving up those same rights to a government with questionable morals?
That’s what I thought you would say.
Its time we more fully consider the impact of our choices. Preferably before our own laziness and 1%’er greed cause the decimation of more than one industry, occupation or small family business.
Our planet is getting smaller everyday, and every day that goes by we must to consider more than just ourselves.
This is practically the mantra the tech industry wants you to believe they live by, and that they imagine they are living by. However, myopic self serving views of one’s own business model does not justify their flawed logic that they are making the world a better place.
Regulators and industry experts know a little more about why the S.H.I.T.S. should heed the law and be properly regulated. Certainly more than some self absorbed 20 something with a desire to not have to lift a finger for anything since mommy trained him to be a spoiled lazy shithead.
But I guess that happens when you are raised by the TV and have no idea what its like to use your imagination playing outdoors. You think your dumb ass app is going to save the world. Pretty sure that starving kid who just died in his mother’s arms or the family destroyed by war doesn’t give a shit about nor will their world be a better place because of your app.
Oh and pull your fucking pants up. Have some respect for where you are.
This post was inspired by the nimrod, saggy pants, dipshits testifying to the a state legislative committee about why they love Uber and Lyft, how “rideshare” [INSERT GIANT EYE ROLL] has changed their lives for the better and will change the world. More than half of them had no idea what they were supposed to say and boy did they say some stupid shit. All taxi and limo industry people were in suit and tie. The SHITS supporters were mostly in t-shirts, hoodies and jeans.