The gig economy (a phrase which encompasses both the related collaborative economy and sharing economy) represents a theory of the future of work that’s a viable alternative to laboring for corporate America. Instead of selling your soul to the Man, it goes, you are empowered to work for yourself on a project-by-project basis. One day it might be delivering milk, but the next it’s building Ikea furniture, driving someone to the airport, hosting a stranger from out of town in your spare bedroom, or teaching a class on a topic in which you’re an expert. The best part? The work will come to you, via apps on your smartphone, making the process of finding work as easy as checking your Twitter feed.
Here’s how it works: Say you are a startup founder who’s looking to meet with an Android app developer. You sign up for the service by logging in with your LinkedIn profile, selecting the topics that interest you (in this case probably startups, programming, etc.), and choosing your favorite coffee shops. And just like how you update your Facebook status, you can write, “I’m looking to meet with an Android app developer.” The message will go public, and anyone on the site can respond to you.
Of course, those dopamine-dazzled brains are still maturing, so a full command of abstract thought remains out of reach. Which means that teenagers can be the most literal-minded people you’ll ever meet in your life. Self-invention is hard, and it helps to have a set blueprint. Enter labels and stereotypes: the Gryffindors, Givers, and Geeks who turn the chaotic terrarium of high school into a taxonomist’s paradise.