Patricia Marx on “Outsourcing Yourself”

A quick comment on:

Patricia Marx, “Outsource Yourself”, The New Yorker, January 14, 2012, pp. 32-35.  (

Ms. Marx gives us a wonderful little piece which she researched by trying out a variety of recently emerged cyber-markets where you can hire people to chores for you.  There are a number of such services, including Task Rabbit, Zaarly , Fiverr, and so on

The basic idea, as Marx says, is to allow

regular Joes to behave like dictators and celebrities. Part Craigslist, part eBay, part wish lists of a spoiled child, these Web sites allow you to request goods and services from citizen venders, who can then bid on the opportunity to, say, write a love letter to win back your ex-girlfriend, file your insurance claim, etc.” p. 32

Yet another gift to modern life, courtesy of the Internet!  Sigh. This is certainly not what I was thinking of, when I helped create this technology so long ago.

Anyway, being very creative, Marx carries out her own “research project”, up to and including outsourcing a book club meeting at her place.

Help with clearing out old books?  Sure.  Cookies—Madeleines specifically?  No problem. Something intelligent to say about Proust? Sure, why not.

The main thing I didn’t like about this story is that many of these services are only available in major metro areas, leaving so many of us out in the boonies left to fend for ourselves.  But I’m sure it is only a matter of time before I, too, can behave like a spoiled child of a dictatorial movie star.

And, by the way, look for other stuff by Patrica Marx, including her first novel, “Starting from Happy” (a review from NPR).

 Marx, Patricia. Starting from Happy.  New York: Scribner, 2011.

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