Are Apps Making Our Lives Easier Or Are They Destroying It?

Times are changing. Remember when it was cool to show off all of your new toys and games to the other kids in the neighborhood? And you were indefinitely the leader of the ‘cool kids’ if you had the most stuff? Well, it’s not so anymore. These days, people are paying more to own less. It sounds like a strange concept, but it’s actually making lives simpler.

Imagine not having to own a car—what a relief, not having to pay for gas and worrying about parking when you go out. But how are you supposed to get to where you want to go? That’s where paying more to own less comes in. Today there’s all of these apps and startups to aid you in owning less—for our car example, let’s go with Uber, or Lyft. Apps that let you have car service to wherever you’re going, and you don’t have to worry about parking or other concerns related to owning a vehicle—you don’t even drive yourself, as that’s part of the car service. And then there’s car shares, where people can sign up to share cars based on schedules and locations. It’s renting a car for a day (or less, depending), and then parking and not having to worry about what happens next. There’s no responsibility, it’s just done. Car2Go and ZipCar are great examples of this, if you need a vehicle for the majority of the week or simply want to be in the driver’s seat for your commute.

And then there’s other apps to make your life simpler. Don’t have time to shop for groceries, or don’t want (or don’t know how, in my case) to cook? No problem — AmazonFresh, Plated, Munchery, FoodyDirect all have you covered! There’s grocery services, where somebody delivers your groceries to your door—all you have to do is make the list and schedule the arrival time (you can set this up for weekly deliveries or just one time). There’s also a delivery/cooking service, for if you’d rather not cook—Munchery and Plated offer organic and healthy meals, prepared by renowned chefs. They have daily and weekly meals, all you have to do is sign up and the meals will be delivered to your home. This is a great alternative to delivery — there’s apps like Eat24 and Postmates, and those are wonderful in the sense that you can get food and any department item you want from places that normally don’t deliver. So if you want a Chipotle burrito delivered to your home, just have Postmates do it. Or if you want delivery from another one of your favorite restaurants, Eat24 is there for you. Not to mention, these apps offer amazing weekend deals for members (free delivery or free items from your favorite places). So if you want straight up delivery, use those apps, but if you’d like healthier and home-cooked options, there’s Plated and Munchery.

Now that we have transportation and food taken care of, what else do we need? Well, every party and home needs drinks (dare we say, libations?) and there’s an app for that, too. Alcohol on demand—most delivery apps won’t offer alcohol as a choice, but now there’s specific apps designed especially for alcohol delivery. One such app is Saucey—you tell them what you’d like, they go to a liquor store and buy the items, then deliver it to your home. This is great for party planning or even if you’re out of drinks at home, too lazy to go to the store, but want it within the hour. Saucey is there for you, as is Thirstie. So what do these apps all have in common — they allow the user (that’s you) to stay home and continue being productive, or whatever it is that you do. Also, from a psychological standpoint, these flourishing startups are great for people who don’t enjoy human interaction. Instead of going to the store and running into people and mumbling about the weather with the sales clerk, you now have the option to stay home and order everything online—no human contact necessary, besides chatting (optionally, mind you) with the delivery person.

So there it is, you own less but pay more to lead a simpler life—groceries on demand, home cooking on demand, streaming media content on demand, delivery service on demand….everything is about service and making it so people can have everything they want at the touch of a button. It’s super convenient, but is this adding to the fear that future generations (not to mention our own) are slowly losing the ability—nay, the art—to socialize?

Whatever happened to engaging people and making those meaningful connections? Or meeting that special someone in the (frozen) food aisle? Or going to your favorite restaurant despite the lunch rush and long lines, because in the end it was about the experience? Whatever happened to those magical social situations where your life could drastically alter its course from uttering a single sentence to a particular person? Is our generation really focused on more productivity, or killing off social skills with one suffocating swipe of a button? I guess, in the end, we really have to ask ourselves what’s more important here: socializing, or convenience. In the meantime, I think I’m going to peruse Postmates, not really feeling like talking to people today, and it’s super convenient. TC mark

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