Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Damn it, tech bros, don't try to "disrupt" tipping

(Photo: FilmMagic/Getty Images)

Look, we get that the bullshit surrounding the practice of tipping can suck, especially in industries—most notably food service in the U.S.—where it’s implemented in place of paying workers an actual living wage. Tipping can be awkward, it’s mathematically inconvenient, and it’s rife with opportunities for shitty customers to try to throw their weight around by holding their server’s livelihood hostage because they were slow bringing over that extra cup of ranch.

But just as nobody wants to “cure” a skin rash by putting a pistol up to it and gamely pulling the trigger, that doesn’t mean we need the world’s tech bros to try their hand at “disrupting” the only thing keeping a tired waitress from keeping the lights on at home. And yet, that’s the apparent end goal of a new innovation being discussed in a recent Business Insider piece, looking into the efforts of a New York-based tech firm to replace tipping with what they see as a commensurate reward for good service: Gifting every member of the rapidly growing gig economy with an inescapable permanent record that will follow them from job to job. Hooray!


The idea comes from bus routing company Skedaddle (ugh), which wants to create a system it’s calling the “Kudos Project,” which would basically replace tipping someone with actual money—you, know, the good green stuff what buys things—with giving them a positive or negative rating logged in a global database. Secured by a blockchain, an individual’s Kudos would follow them around to different jobs; the company is already talking to ride-share companies and other would-be tech utopias to spread the omni-present love.

In a perverse way, this is actually a pretty fitting system for the gig economy, where those hoping to make ends meet have to work simultaneously as a taxi driver, maintenance person, motel operator, and all-purpose freelance serf. It also sounds like yet another ingredient for the generic cookie-cutter dystopia we all seem to barreling toward, leading us to once again demand Congress step in and save people from themselves by passing a law that forces tech types to ask “Would this idea come up as a joke on Silicon Valley, or a plot point on Black Mirror?” before being allowed to progress with their latest schemes. (Bonus “Don’t Do This” points if it also sounds like something Steve Buscemi would say in Reservoir Dogs):

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