Tech companies old and new are powering an on-demand revolution, letting us get everything from house cleaning, to lunch, to products, to almost literally everything where we want it, when we want it.
Of course, there’s a cost – a monetary one for users of these services, and, arguably, a long-term economic one on the supply side. But there’s also a hidden cost, in that having everything just a tap away is inevitably making us spoiled and lazy.
I propose an anti-venom for this trend: Inconvenience-as-a-service. Someone please build an app that actually makes it more frustrating, more arduous or just more logistically complex for me to get what I’m after. Take delivery of my Amazon order and drive it to another city, for instance – or better yet, throw up 10 or 15 “Are you sure?” dialogs before I can even confirm my purchase in the first place.
Make me a taxi booking app that delays the car’s arrival by however long it would take me to walk there anyway. Sign me up for a subscription recipe box service that delivers an empty bag every week with a printed map to the nearest local grocer and “figure it out” writ large under a “This Week’s Recipe” heading.
The problem with the shift to an on-demand economy is that it’s not a fair fight; our meager human brains don’t stand a chance when faced with the promise of such instant plenty. But even the best buffet is still going to get old eventually – stuffing your face for eternity is not a habit that breeds good feeling.
We’ve reached the stage in our veritable buffet when we’re ready for the proverbial guilt-motivated, after-meal walk that often follows. So take my dry cleaning, hike it 20 miles into the nearest national park and then row it across to an island and hang it from the highest tree; throw my takeout down a well; interrupt my Netflix binge queue with a three-and-a-half hour mandatory video of just the word “Buffering” – I’m ready to wait.