One of the most depressing things about the so-called sharing economy—the recession-induced workforce transition in which everyone hustles twice as hard to piece their shit together except for a relatively small group of selectively lazy and self-deluded individuals who rejoice in replacing all physical interactions with an app—is the disingenuous way it’s co-opted the language of community.
For one example: with Airbnb, how can you think about all the families you’re displacing via market inflation when you’re sharing space and experience with a friend you never knew you had? For another: with this new type of living space called Common—a recent recipient of a $7.3 million investment, reports Gothamist—how will you ever come to the understanding that interpersonal effort is the only way to find interpersonal meaning when you’ve got someone buying your goddamn toilet paper for you and your expensive communal apartment building comes with its own fucking Slack?
Gothamist writes that Common’s new apartment building will open on “the corner of South 3rd Street and Havemeyer in Williamsburg—where single bedrooms will rent for $2,250 to $3,190 for a month-to-month lease.”
To be clear, this will be the monthly rent not for a studio apartment or a one-bedroom apartment, but for a single bedroom in one of 12 duplex suites shared with one, two or three other roommates.
[...] Addressing the cost of living during an interview on Wednesday, Hargreaves emphasized that all of the rooms come fully furnished, and are constantly replenished with coffee, tea, toilet paper, and other household staples that “roommates fight over to go buy.” Wifi, free laundry and weekly cleaning is included, and there’s a room with yoga mats and free weights. Also, the more expensive rooms are bigger, and come with a private bathroom.
And, and, and! Because you—a rich young person who needs adult-babying so badly that you are willing to pay $2,250 a month for a hip Brooklyn dorm room—have already trained yourself to be too good/busy/enlightened to lift a finger to buy your own coffee OR decide what you want your room to look like OR decide who you want to see after you get home from work, you also get your own apartment Slack Channel so that you don’t have to move a muscle to even see what the people in your own apartment are doing. You don’t have to knock on their doors or talk to them in the kitchen. You can avoid the ultimately rewarding hellwater of in-person human interaction and just be like “hey wyd” on your phones!
For the uninitiated, Slack is a group chat platform popular among media outlets and tech startups that helps workers, mostly young white-collar ones, both procrastinate at work and never really stop working.
“We use Slack for the entire building, and the members love it,” Hargreaves added, referring to his already-established co-living apartments in Crown Heights. “Someone will say they are making pancakes [in the channel] on a Sunday morning, and people will show up and have their own impromptu breakfast.”
And here’s where the sharing economy gets you: it sounds nice, maybe, to a certain type of person. But for this idea to work—for most aspects of the sharing economy to function as they were planned to—you have to believe that humans are fundamentally interchangeable, which they are not, unless you barely know them. And in this land of single transactions and month-to-month leases and nonstop Slacking to fulfill your emotional FitBit’s daily interaction quotient, “barely knowing people” is where you’ll stay.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Images via screenshot