Survive the econopocalypse

By LISSA HARRIS  |  June 11, 2009

Tweet your heart out
A few years ago, if you spent all your time farting around on Friendster (hey, remember Friendster?), that just made you a self-absorbed clod. Now your deficiencies are a business skill. Even the New York Times has a social-media editor. Are you a vigorous Twitterer? Hit up businesses you know well and see if they need help promoting themselves online. Twitter is gaining currency, and forward-thinking businesses are finding creative ways to tweet up new customers. But even if they're Internet-savvy, few small business owners have time to sit around barking out 140-character communiqués all day. Bear in mind that you may have to educate your prospective clientele. (Tweets? Tags? Twits? Tweeple? Admit it, it's fucking confusing.)

Become a guinea pig
Do you, um, like drugs? Boston is basically the research-hospital capital of America, and it's full of opportunities for getting paid to try new pharmaceuticals, or, as the case-studies may be, give up some bodily fluids or just have your brain picked. Contact hospitals to see if you qualify for any of their research, or try looking for upcoming studies on sites like CenterWatch (centerwatch.com) or WebMD.

Medical studies vary widely in invasiveness and commitment required, from getting $10 to play a computer game with a psych undergrad to better-paying long-term clinical trials (which often need healthy volunteers for control groups). For starters, check out the amazing zine Guinea Pig Zero (guineapigzero.com) to see what you're getting into. And beware of those month-long sleep studies that pay shockingly good money — there's a reason for that. Being kept awake for days on end by white-coated orderlies who drain your blood and fit you with rectal probes may be lucrative, and it may be for the greater good of science, just be prepared to have as much trouble easing back into reality as a former resident of Gitmo.

Teach the home arts
Are you talented? No, this isn't a casting-couch come-on, but an entreaty for you to find your inner Mr. Miyagi and teach those hungry to learn. Your best bet in this arena might be the home-ec department. Sewing, cooking (see above), basic carpentry, and other household skills are high on people's wish lists right now, thanks to a generation of Americans that's been empowered right out of knowing how to fucking do anything useful.

Lissa Harris launched her writing career while driving a delivery van full of Oriental rugs. She can be reached at lissa.e.harris@gmail.com.

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