I don’t know how I managed my life before Amazon Prime, but somehow I did.
Same-day or next-day delivery to my doorstep of virtually any item that exists in the retail universe is no longer miraculous, it’s routine. I just love it. I also kind of hate it. When it comes to convenience and time efficiency, you can’t beat online shopping. However, in other ways, I feel a little weird about it – like I’m donning the mantle of the oblivious and entitled in a “Let them eat cake” sort of way.
The funny thing is that hardly anything I order needs to get into my hands that very day. But regardless, I always opt for the quickest delivery option that doesn’t exact any additional fees. I don’t have any reason to do it other than the Amazon Prime membership fee I paid entitles me to that level of service. This justification is where my inner Marie Antoinette resides.
I have a vivid memory of a cartoon I once saw in elementary school that depicted the “Progress of Man,” which started with a drawing of an ape, developing into an upright Homo sapiens, then finally morphing into an odd-looking human being with a humongous, E.T.-like head (enlarged brain), an underdeveloped, spindly body (for lack of physical exertion) and hands sprouting only a thumb because a single digit was all that was necessary for pushing buttons.
This depiction of mankind’s eventual dependency on machines and technology was amazingly published before iPads, cellular phones, video games and microwave ovens were even invented. Back then, “high-tech” meant an electric typewriter and maybe a push-button phone.
I never understood why I have retained that image in my head over these many years, particularly in light of the fact that I’ve lost so many others over the same period of time. But I think of it now as something of an omen of times to come – for me. A large-headed, button-pushing Homo sapiens ordering up facial care products, dog toys, kitchen utensils and gift wrap all whilst sitting on my living room sofa, or as our president might imagine, fat and slovenly in my bed.
I used to make lists and shop strategically, meaning I tried to consolidate trips so as not to waste time and gasoline. Now it’s not unusual for me to run low on, let’s say, hair conditioner, and if I can get free shipping, I order it. A single item. Delivered to my home within the next two days. Does that seem a little wasteful and self-indulgent to anyone else?
I have heard stories about Amazon employees being exploited. My knowledge on the topic is fuzzy, but it more or less comes down to the immense pressure – for apparently inadequate compensation – that expedited delivery brings to bear on people at all stages of the fulfilling of any one order. I can buy that. I don’t know how Amazon actually gets things to my door so quickly, but robotic devices notwithstanding, I imagine it takes a lot of hustle and muscle to do it.
In general, online shopping makes me think a lot less about my purchases at the same time that it makes me acutely aware of them.
I still do grocery shopping the old-fashioned way, but that’s not a point of pride with me. However, as the holidays approach, and a trip to the mall becomes as appealing as shooting myself in the face, I can well imagine receiving all sorts of packages arriving at my front door in the upcoming weeks. It’s hopeless, I’m afraid. Everything nowadays is just too easy.