The Gig Economy Is White People Discovering Servants

The Uber of X already exists. It’s called servants
4 min readJun 12, 2019

At some point in the last century Americans, having gotten rid of slavery, accidentally lifted their incomes so much that they found themselves isolated in suburban houses, surrounded by machinery, cleaning their own toilets. They had rising incomes but everyone’s incomes were rising which means that there was no one to do stuff for you, and you couldn’t just buy people anymore.

This century the vaunted American middle class has bottomed out and the place has started to look more like the ‘developing’ world, with a definite underclass. However, lacking generations of feudal tradition and clinging to the myth of being a classless society, Americans couldn’t just bring servants into their homes. So venture capitalists did it for them.

Uber and Postmates and DoorDash and all of these ‘gig’ economy companies simply created a giant pool of servants that you could call on demand. That’s all they really do. The gig economy is just a giant collection of servants.

I should know. I have servants.

I live in Sri Lanka and despite always making below the US poverty line (about $2000 a month), that is a shit-ton of money here. I have also generally lived with family that pools resources. Hence I have (and have often had) a driver. This driver can go and pick stuff up as well. So that’s Uber and Postmates rolled into one. If you have a good driver they can do lots of things.

My family or my wife’s family also have cooks, which makes DoorDash (food delivery) largely irrelevant, but again, there’s also the driver for that.

Then of course there are cleaners and people to do laundry, which I have always had, even when I lived alone, because it makes life so much better. It has always amazed me that quite wealthy people in the west still clean their toilets and fold clothes. Silicon Valley hasn’t quite yet figured that one out, though WeWork has serviced offices where all the cleaning and janitorial are taken care of.



Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at, or just email me at