The “side hustle” is an Orwellian euphemism for piecemeal work, and it is a intermediate stage in the ongoing destruction of labor by increased automation and artificial intelligence. First, there was the cab driver, then the person who got paid half as much to give rides with their own car, until the day they could be replaced with a robot.
A growing supply of unemployed and underemployed people make a Faustian bargain with wealthy start-ups: “We won’t give you a fulfilling well-paying job, but we’ll at least give you some work you can do, on your own schedule, in return for a lower than market wage and you bear all the risk and expense of performing the tasks we give you.”
The Big Lie in the “side hustle” pitch is that this is akin to some kind of entrepreneurial activity, which can produce value and wealth. Instead, it’s just a low paying part time job with flexible hours.