AmazonFresh dropped groceries at my doorstep. EBay delivered some gardening tools. I got a burrito, granola bars, locally roasted coffee, and wine. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. I paid the person who walks my dog, Pixel, using a mobile payment app. I deposited checks with my smartphone camera. I had my laundry done using Washio, an app. Someone picked up my clothes and dropped them off, folded and pressed, 24 hours later.
What could be easier? But then I began wondering about the price of all this convenience. Before Washio came along, I took my clothes to the small dry cleaner a block from my house. The app saved three minutes of my time. But in the process, it cut a neighborhood business out of the economic equation. And, in a way, I had cut off myself from the inconvenient, maddening, but all-too-necessary messiness of human interaction.
None of this is news. One of the paradoxes of technology is that it connects us and isolates us at the same time. We get more, faster, but cannot help wondering if that is always better. We have more to read and more to watch, more to learn and more to transact, more friends and more followers — and yet we can somehow feel less satisfied.
I think it should be added that not leaving your home for a week and still completing your daily dues is possible only in specific urban centers. Put Bilton in Toronto or Vancouver and I doubt he would be able to pull off this stunt.
But, on the same token, it's pretty cool to see the possibilities of the online world. How soon will it be before online grocery shopping is the norm? Will I routinely buy my children's diapers through Amazon?
I'm willing to bet that it'll happen in my lifetime. And my children will wonder why we ever trudged through four foot snowbanks to get to the grocery store.