By David Martin

Convenience may actually hurt us


August 15, 2019

We live in an age of unparalleled convenience.

With a tap on a cell phone screen, we can summon a driver, order carryout delivery or have our groceries shipped right to our front doors. Don’t want to go through Amazon? Grocery stores allow people to shop on your phone, with the items bagged and ready for pickup within a few hours. We’re living in an age “The Jetsons” couldn’t imagine -- though I still want the flying cars.

However, what does this convenience cost us? I started asking myself this after using the Door Dash app to order some Chinese food on a busy night. The food came, the delivery person was nice when she brought the order, I didn’t even need to change out of my pajamas. I stepped outside, grabbed the bags, thanked the delivery woman and walked back inside my house. It was a very short exchange.

It’s not a stretch to say we no longer have to leave our houses. Sure, a lot of jobs here require people to show up, but many allow employees to telecommute.

With the ability to have almost anything imaginable sent to the house, our homes have become castles we can hole up in for days on end. Since everything can be delivered, there’s no reason to venture out of the house for even the most basic things. What this means is there’s also no need to interact with people beyond the short exchanges at the front door.

We are social animals and there’s value in every interpersonal interaction we have, even the negative ones. While most people can navigate social cues and nuances of personal interactions, what worries me is the question of how people who grow up with these services will navigate the world as adults. Studies have already shown that children whose parents limit their screen time with personal devices show higher mental functioning than children whose time is isn’t limited.

It isn’t out of the question to think a similar impact on interpersonal communication skills would result from a reliance on delivery services and apps.

We’re living in a brave, new world and unfortunately, we’re also the guinea pigs for future generations to learn from.


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