Laughter has been called the best medicine.
Turns out, it’s also a good productivity enhancer and business booster.
– Marla Tabaka, Inc.com
For Workers laughing alone for money, workers on the platform Microworkers have been asked to record themselves laughing for approximately one minute. The payment for this was US$ 1.00 per worker, and the platform charged a fee of $0.10 per completed task.
The title is a play on the meme Women laughing alone with salad which first appeared on feminist blog The Hairpin, posted as a collection of images showing exactly what the title suggests, without any additional comment. These stock photos show images of women who are brimming with health, happiness and success while lovingly gazing at their requisite bowl of salad. Collected, they illustrate how gender stereotypes are among the coercive elements that are mobilised in the dissemination of the neoliberal imperative for self-optimisation and commodification, where one’s body appears as an asset into which one invests (for example, through healthy eating), and from which one can then draw a return. In this respect, Women laughing alone with salad could also be understood as a study in what Mark Fisher has called boring dystopia, a form of coercion which operates through pervasive dissemination of subliminal disciplinary messages.
But dystopia is not only boring. On the contrary, dystopia can be filled with anxiety and existential dread, for example, and finding yourself in a situation where you are forced to rely on micro-earnings accumulated through completing micro-jobs is one such condition which is rather conducive to a close encounter with anxious and dreadful dystopia.
Dealing with this kind of dystopia requires a certain kind of affective labour. Often, affective labour is discussed with a view to its gendered aspects, which are most readily discernible in work that involves interpersonal interaction and exchange. But there is another aspect of affective labour, which has to do with the effort of disciplining and motivating oneself, an effort that is particularly needed and at the same time more daunting when one works alone, separate from others. What do you do when dystopia sets in while you’re working alone at your computer, and you do not have the time to compose yourself, as every second spent not focused on the task could mean a potential loss of earnings? Erupt in a spontaneous and desolate burst of lonely laughter?