It probably won’t last long. There will surely be another painful correction, another tech bubble burst, an impressively horrible socioeconomic downspin wrought of, well, who knows what. Global warming. Massive lightning strikes. Water wars. A Republican president who, once again, makes America ashamed to be an American. You know, the usual.
Whatever the cause, one can only hope the current trend of catering to, reveling in and fetishizing every hiccup, burp and micro-brewed demand of the Uber Generation ends relatively soon, if for no other reason than there simply doesn’t seem to be much space left in this era’s stupefying ego, and things are getting a little… embarrassing.
Examples? Everywhere. Perhaps you already heard that Uber, the nastiest/awesomest/most ferociously successful company in your lifetime, already lets you play your own Spotify playlist during your ride? Because heaven forfend you be without your questionable taste in music for that nine minute cruise to the sushi bar? Because that exhausted Uber driver, already beat to hell trying to scrape together a living out of pleasing your every quirk and burp, simply cannot wait to revel in your awesome Major Lazer/Mumford & Sons dance party megamix?
That was just the beginning. Turns out Pandora also inked a deal with Uber, making it even easier to play your own music in your ride – because, as fate would have it, the Spotify setup was just slightly too inconvenient to actually use. And if there’s one thing you simply cannot do in the modern era, it’s inconvenience a Millennial.
Is that too cynical? Too hater? I’m not so sure.
Be not unclear: This is not a defense of the wayward charms of a cab driver’s choice in audio entertainment – although, really, where else do you get to enjoy bizarre AM talk radio, Vietnamese dance pop, or soft FM hits of the ‘70s? Expose yourself to the new, sheltered tech bros.
This is about how all the flotsam and jetsam currently clogging up the modern cultural slipstream feels like it’s about to reach critical mass, as the giant lump of toxic pretense known as the “convenience economy” spins, inevitably, toward its own doom.
Oh sweet Jesus with a Task Rabbit disciple, the convenience economy. What do you need, sunlight-deprived tech-bro startup automaton wearing the same plaid shirt, flaccid hoody and Brooklyn facial hair as everyone else? A ride? A haircut? A backrub? Laundry service? Pot edibles, some Red Bull, your car parked, a sandwich, apartment tidied, spreadsheet fixed? Two dozen cupcakes, a bottle of scotch, dim sum, a sushi burrito on a stick?
Fear not: There’s an instant-delivery micro-service at your beck and call – one usually founded by some glib Ivy League business school grad with about as much soul as a Trump rally in Phoenix. Or not! Just guessing.
It’s called the “Uberization” of everything – an ultra-personalized, app-driven, do-it-for-me dystopia of shameless overpampering that not merely undercuts the old model – AKA the one where you actually go places, do things, touch the world, run your own errands, take care of your own crap and quit thinking the world owes you everything because you write mediocre code for Sergey and Larry – it actually savages it – although, so far, it seems only Uber is making a trillion dollars doing it and nearly everyone else is burning through mountains of VC cash like it’s Webvan 2.0.
Is this what they call wariness? Wisdom? Might be. Because now that I am officially old enough to have survived Tech Boom 1.0 (c. 1995-2000), but still young enough to remember that it was, in its own way, equal parts thrilling, obnoxious, revolutionary, entitled and horribly dressed, I get to righteously mock this trend, even as I indulge in some of its finer accomplishments. Hypocrisy? Only a little.
Nevertheless, the question floateth above the sea of slouchy hoodies and artisanal beer bellies like a cloud of pot smoke in Dolores Park: In the coming decade, which handful of technologies and services will prove themselves of genuine, lasting value amidst the avalanche of wasted creative energy masquerading as cultural necessity? SnapChat, Tinder, ManServants? Get real. Tesla? Instagram? PornHub? Maybe.
But if Tech Boom 1.0 taught us anything about imminent, melodramatic shakeouts – and it didn’t – it’s that you never know who, or what, will be the trigger.
All you can do is rest assured that a shakeup is nigh – simply because a shakeup is always nigh. As for Uber, it might be printing cash, but it’s also ripe for self-immolation. Did you hear that only 15 percent of Americans have ever used any ride-hailing app? And fully a third of Americans have never even heard of Uber? And we’re on the threshold of cooking the planet and wiping out all the animals and no one knows how to stop it, much less hail a ride to get the hell away from it all? Perhaps you haven’t. Just not all that convenient.
Read more here:: Generation Uber: The world’s most annoyingly entitled?