Your hourly rate is ruining your life

When I was in college, the gig economy was the hot thing.

My first full-time job was at a startup that matched freelance tech workers with clients.

Hourly rates were a big deal. People thought about them a lot.

...and it felt common to hear arguments like: “I’ll Doordash my food and work an extra hour — it makes financial sense.”

And, yea, I get it. Time is money and all that.

But I’m reminded of this Vonnegut quote:

[When Vonnegut tells his wife he’s going out to buy an envelope] Oh, she says, well, you’re not a poor man. You know, why don’t you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I’m going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. [...] And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don’t know. The moral of the story is, is we’re here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don’t realize, or they don’t care, is we’re dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we’re not supposed to dance at all anymore.

(Quote from

Not a hot take

Ha — as I went to look for that quote I found 10 million blog posts on this story already.

But I’m going to keep writing this because I feel strongly about it and clearly it’s something we’re continuing to struggle with as a society.

Anyways, go fart around a little bit — as Vonnegut would say.

Put down Doordash and learn a recipe.

Stop living your life for a spreadsheet.


In college, I had an essay tutor who did his PhD dissertation on what he called ontonumerology.

I stared at him, perplexed.

“It’s the idea that measuring something can ruin it.”

I think about that a lot.

There are things in life that don’t lend themselves to a spreadsheet. Not because they’re difficult to measure, although that may also be true, but because measuring them inherently degrades them.

Think about measuring the value that cooking for yourself brings into your life.

Fitting that into any kind of sensible spreadsheet would require a soulless dimensionality reduction exercise where you’d lose its subtle, nuanced, and — most importantly — human elements.

Which column will you use to indicate that cooking for yourself is an act of self-love that’s helping you heal from a recent breakup?

Which cell will record the smell of paprika to the sounds of upbeat music?

So yes, Doordash your meal. Fine. But maybe also cook one every now and again.

Or find your own way to go out and buy an envelope.