13 September 2015

Please Mr Postman: Online shopping & how it's making us super lazy

I can’t remember the last time I went to an actual store. That thought struck me today when the doorbell rang in the afternoon with the latest of my deliveries: two baby board books, absolutely adorable, and neither of which I have spotted in the stores before, for two little girls I know who just had their birthdays. I shoved the package on my bookshelf, and next time I meet their mothers, I’ll carry along a book with me.

Easier to make a random plan than having to wait till I go to a bookstore the next time.

I actually never considered buying presents online before. I don’t know why — I certainly buy everything else. But presents always seemed to me a thing of brick and mortar stores, you spend a long time in a market figuring out what you want to give someone and, finally, in a panic, you buy the first thing you saw anyway. But now even that barrier is broken and my switch from offline to online is almost complete.

There are many advantages to buying from your local mom-and-pop grocer. In my own colony, we have three grocery shops, all around each other, and each offering more or less the same kind of goods. One is a little bigger than the other two and as a result is always so crowded, that it takes a good 15 minutes just to get anyone to take your order. But old hands like me are allowed to go behind the counter and choose what we want. However, there’s a peculiar odour that emanates from the shop especially during the height of summer, Eau De Dead Rat or something. Calculating the amount of time it takes to walk there and then wait and then walk back again, it seemed almost too stupid not to take advantage of one of the many grocery delivery apps there are right now.

My own particular choice was Grofers. Not because they are superior to others (they may or may not be) but because theirs was the first ad that I happened to see for that service. The app is ridiculously easy to use — you download it and then type in what you need and it gets delivered to your door. Two things sealed the deal for us: one, you could pay online so it didn’t matter whether or not you had cash in the house and two, they also deliver cat food, an essential for lazy pet owners.

Today, the doorbell has rung about six or seven times and I have received: two bras bought on the Myntra shopping app, just in time to go under the new dress I was planning on wearing tonight, one Grofers man with a box of tomatoes, another Grofers man with my “dry” groceries and Amazon, like I mentioned before, with my baby board books. Yesterday we received a multi plug and a magazine, the months before had a microwave and an oven and a vacuum cleaner and so on and so forth, you get the idea. We never have to leave the house again.


Me in five years.


It’s sort of perfect. But is it really? I can’t help thinking of Wall-E. The little garbage cleaning robot left to sort out the mess on earth while humans wait in space for a sign that the planet is inhabitable. Wall-E stands on a pile of our making, a pile of things we have consumed and when the frame zooms out you see earth is buried under these things, like a dystopian nightmare. Meanwhile in space, you see the future humans, only they’re obese and always consuming, hooked into their screens, seated on chairs that hover them from one area to the next and am I saying this might be my future if I stick to ordering all my things online? No. But somewhere there’s a catch to all of this.

Oh well, until I figure it out, I can keep going.


(A version of this appeared as my column on mydigitalfc.com)

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