The digital platform Fiverr, which is used by freelancers to offer a variety of services to customers worldwide, recently began an ad campaign aimed at independent workers that has been taking some heat -- and for good reason.
The most talked about image (above), features a young woman with tired eyes, messy hair, and text that glorifies constant productivity. Addiction to stimulants and sleep deprivation are portrayed as the positive lengths the Fiverr freelancer will go to in their pursuit of "follow through."
Perhaps the best criticism of the idea that freelancing equals surrendering yourself to work so that you have no room left for anything else in your life comes in the form of this satirical essay by Max Noblauch on Mashable.
For example, taking Fiverr's "being-productive-is-life" logic to the extreme, he writes: "You're a plumber in the morning, carpenter in the afternoon, driver at night. You eat, dream, and breathe caffeine... None of your employers offer health insurance. So what — you'll find an app and start being a doctor. Hell yeah. It's good. You're a doer."
His short piece is well worth the read, and his overall point is absolutely correct -- Gig workers need health insurance, vacation time, financial security, and a host of other things now generally provided for full-time, permanent employees.
The idea that certain people are just "doers" and willingly work so much that they need stimulants to stay awake is ridiculous. People do such things because they're trying to make ends meet. Companies like Fiverr would do well to learn that lesson and start figuring out ways to include worker protections and benefits in their business models.
Gig workers shouldn't wait for companies to begin this process though, organizing and demanding that our needs are met should begin right now.