Infinite articles have been written about the “sharing economy” and how contemporary technology allows anyone to make themselves into an entrepreneur. You can be a hotelier through Airbnb, hire assistants through TaskRabbit, and distribute your own music through Bandcamp. While the possibilities appear endless, they have a very specific upper bound. That’s because most human beings are absolutely horrible and are to be avoided as much as possible. The cost of interacting with people very quickly outweighs any benefit, so more instantly becomes much, much less.
That limit is reached extremely quickly (maybe even instantly) with ridesharing apps such as Lyft. While these apps might not literally be hell for introverts (i.e., sane people), I wouldn’t be surprised if the guy next door to Sisyphus is sharing a ride in perpetuity with no destination in mind.
1. The driver knows your name.
I’m certain they don’t even call them “drivers” but rather some sort of idiotic neologism like “fun mover.” After all, Lyft isn’t a cab…it’s better, right? Well, kinda but no. The introvert’s nightmare begins before you even get into the vehicle. Unlike a cab, where the driver doesn’t know who you are and frankly couldn’t care less, with Lyft they get your name when you summon them. Worse, they will immediately address you by your first name to make sure that they have the right person. That means we’re practically friends already, so let’s chat and get to know each other better.
2. The driver will be extroverted.
It is no surprise that those who welcome strangers into a small metal box with them tend to the extroverted (i.e., awful) part of the spectrum. What is a surprise is how exuberant and excited they are to make small talk about nothing and how they’ll tell you their backstory in such a dull way that it seems no human being could possibly find it of interest—no one except for an extrovert, of course. You didn’t live here all your life? Lyft allows you to meet all kinds of interesting people? Yes, I do agree. You do need your reality show!
3. You’re encouraged to sit in the front seat.
Physical space is the buffer that separates an introvert from an extrovert’s social assault. It is a great mechanism at a party to subtly exit from a conversational circle without being perceived as a jerk. In a cab, it is the backseat that allows for such a barrier. You can look out the window and avoid eye contact, pretending to be fascinated by the scenery while giving curt answers as needed. But the front seat? No, that’s where pals sit. Since staring out the side window when the front window is in view comes off as insane, you’ve no choice but to look the driver in the eye and feign a smile.
4. You’ll hear “fun” music.
It was 9 AM on a Saturday morning, and my driver was blasting “Uptown Funk.” Then “In Da Club” came on. On the one hand, yes I am short. On the other hand, it was not my birthday. In any case, who listens to club music on Saturday morning? The only time that would be appropriate is if someone is on a bender from the night before. To be fair, the driver will ask you if the music’s OK. To be even more fair, people who listen to 180BPM in the AM will have no comprehension of why a silent ride is preferable, so “no music, thanks” is not an option. At the very least, that would lead to a discussion about not liking music, which is worse than any actual music. Further, no introvert feels comfortable invading someone’s space and fiddling with their radio to find something tolerable. It’s all about boundaries, you awful, awful Lyft people.
5. Your driver will ask which route you prefer.
We’ve now found the precise opposite of pornography: a collaborative decision-making process. Lyft drivers will give you updates as to what roads are closed, even if you’re from another city, and then give you a few options to get to your location. The correct option is: whichever gets me there the fastest. Even better is when they tell you about previous road closings so you can be nostalgic for the bygone days of January. Oh, how innocent and marginally diverted we were then!
6. You will be judged on your performance.
Despite the air of fun (who can be against fun?), the sharing economy regulates itself based on reputation. The driver will also give you a rating, even though you are the one hiring him and paying him to perform a service. Not chatty enough? Why, you’re worse than Hitler. Everyone is judging everyone else and putting their judgment in writing. It is democratic at its core, which is to say horrific. It is a world where an extrovert’s frantic desires are as valid as an introvert’s need for space. In other words: It’s hell on Earth.