Who Has the Time?

/ written by Sebastian Campos-Alvarez

Who has time to go out and socialize, you know, with people anymore? I suspect that’s the way lots of 20-somethings like me feel nowadays. I’m guilty of thinking that way at times, at least in part because I surround myself with a plethora of technologies. Various devices allow me to cut through the clutter of the simplest of tasks—like, for example, dinner, out or in.

Now I want to make it clear that I personally don’t just sit in a passive stupor while technology does things like fetch dinner for me. In fact, my impression is that most people my age are expert device and app multitaskers for better or worse: working, texting, learning, reading or posting, being creative, looking up information, watching cat videos, affixing emojis—very important stuff that keeps us busy as hell.

Being so busy justifies our lack of interactivity, or rather our lack of wanting to interact in the first place, especially since we generally understand that togetherness will most likely be with another individual who has little interest in performing the work of togetherness to begin with. So, yeah, it ends up being easier for us to just order our damn food through Postmates, bite the add-on cost bullet, and watch that extra episode of House of Cards while we’re at it. Afterward, we’ll get busy chatting about HoC in emojis with our worldwide social scene. 👌

On the topic of Postmates: it’s an online mobile service founded in 2011 that grants users access to delivery from a vast network of stores, restaurants, and locations. It comes with a premium charge, but it’s a notably premium service. There’s no shortage of food delivery apps out there, but the catch is they only work at restaurants that offer delivery service. Instead of being a simple transaction connectivity app, Postmates goes a step further and becomes a personal delivery service for food, groceries and whatever.

Craving that Olive Garden Fettuccini Alfredo and bread sticks at 9pm? Postmates has you covered, with you agreeing to pay a fee higher than the average tip. Economically speaking, is it worth it? You bet it is: Not only am I not expending gas and energy to drive 4-5 miles to the nearest restaurant, I can stay tucked in at base camp spending my time doing other super important things while I wait for my favorite shitty food. You can’t put a price-tag on nesting.

Behold the magic of competition: Similar apps keep coming to market. To no one’s surprise, Uber made their food delivery service debut in 2014. UberEATs repurposes their familiar easy/beautiful user experience and interface design at a lower price point than Postmates. Granted, this app only works for food delivery so far and their restaurant selection is limited, but the simple transaction process and the lower cost definitely allow me to feel less guilty while I laze off waiting for my food to be delivered straight to my door. Wait, did I say lazing off? I meant staying busy developing technology that delivers food from my door to my sofa.

One last app to mention is Amazon’s Prime Now. I would describe it as Target on wheels with same-day delivery included in the price! So many items. For an add-on fee, 1-hour delivery. At your service since 2014 if you live in Manhattan, Prime Now is currently rolling out across metro America at a fast clip. Featuring that streamlined Amazon experience I enjoy, I adopted it almost instantly. That said, Prime Now seems to have been a mere prelude to Amazon Restaurants. It’s the same idea repackaged in a different skin with the added bonus that Amazon Prime members get free delivery after spending 10 bucks, which of course I do. I breathlessly awaited its availability in PHX…now it’s here… 🙌

Do I still go out? Of course. It’s pleasant to surf my smartphone and crank my headphones at a restaurant, just like everyone else at the tables around me and my date. But like I said, as a busy person, I feel online delivery services allow me to concentrate my energy on other urgent pursuits when all I want is quick grub and to avoid burning my face in 110-degree weather. Thus, I’m down to in-person visits to hipster burger joints, artisanal cafes, bistros, etc. maybe four nights a week. The greatest invention of our lifetimes? Wifi. 👍