We’re living in the Golden Age of Laziness.
A legendary epoch of sloth. A shining era of indolence. This stage in history will go down as the moment when it was decided that we, as a society, just couldn’t be bothered to put on pants anymore. And to be honest, it’s rather glorious.
There’s a new saying: “Netflix and Chill.” It’s when you invite someone over to watch Netflix and then, you know, fiddle with each others’ special parts. Well, I have my own version of this. It’s called “Netflix and Cheese,” and it’s just me sitting around in my underwear, eating fancy cheese and watching my stories. The wildest part is that I don’t even have to get dressed to buy the cheese!
If I’m willing to pay the fees — which is usually only when I’m really hungover — I can use apps like Instacart, TaskRabbit and Postmates to have that chunk of Truffle Tremor delivered right to my door from Rainbow Grocery. And you know I’m not putting on pants to answer the door.
Part of living in San Francisco is that we’ve got the pleasure — earnestly or sarcastically, depending on how you look at it — of being the guinea pigs for all of the new technology-driven services that emerge. We get front-row seats to witness the vagaries of free-market capitalism happen at hyperspeed.
Remember when Uber and Lyft had to compete with Sidecar and Summon? Or when Sprig, Munchery, Spoonrocket and whatever other silly-named companies were all vying to be the one that would deliver freshly made lunch directly to our faces? One of the unexpected outcomes of this most-recent tech boom is that, within just a few years, we’ve gotten remarkably accustomed to having nearly anything we want arrive at our doors at incredible speeds. And while it’s making everything far more convenient, it’s also making us assholes.
I’m not saying the breakdown of patience and courtesy is entirely due to the fact that we can have chimichangas, lube and Q-tips delivered at any hour of the day. But it’s certainly making people more self-centered and weakening our social skills.
I bartend once a week, and one of my roommates owns a bar. A few weeks ago, the two of us and some other friends were sitting around late at night discussing how much ruder people have become: I could be head-down, obviously in the midst of making a drink for a customer, and someone will come right up and start ordering from me as if I’d looked them in the eye and asked what they wanted. Similarly, if I pass someone up because they’re twiddling with their phone, they’ll get cranky that I served a customer who was ready instead of waiting patiently for them to stop taking selfies. Worst of all, people say “please” and “thank you” less than ever before.
I see the worst manifestations of it in folks who work at big tech companies; I know because their clothes say the name of their employer and they’re often drinking on the company card. And if I worked someplace where all my meals were taken care of and I could just take a yoga class and drop off my laundry, I’d probably subconsciously get used to the idea that the world was set up to make things very convenient for me.
The issue is when they leave the bubble and have to interact with people who don’t exist in that world. It’s a kind of cognitive dissonance: “What do you mean I have to wait for other people to be served before I can have the thing that I want?”
None of us realize we’re doing this until it gets pointed out. If someone barks a drink order at me, and I say, “What’s the magic word?” in response, more often than not they realize they’re being rude and sheepishly apologize.
“Oh, wow. I’m so sorry. Can I please have an IPA.”
I’m plenty guilty of this ridiculousness, too. I’ve huffed in annoyance that a Lyft Line wasn’t going to show up for 9 minutes, only to be reminded of how long it used to take for taxis to show up when we had to call dispatch.
We’re all spoiled by the conveniences of living in San Francisco. While there are bigger conversations that need to be had about the ethics surrounding these conveniences — like how the people doing the delivering aren’t getting enough labor protections, and how we should also be supporting small local businesses — we also have to remember how good we have it. Just because you can now get Taqueria Cancun delivered to your house doesn’t mean you should forget how to be courteous and kind when you order in-person.
P.S. “Netflix and Cheese” is not an exaggeration. I live on the third floor of my building and often don’t have time to put on clothes before running down to answer my door. One time, I ran down in my underwear, and the UPS guy lit up and said, “Hey! You’re Broke-Ass!” Makes me wonder what pictures he’s seen of me.
Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com. Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in the San Francisco Examiner.