Thank you for calling Pizza Pizza, is this order for pick-up, delivery or drone? Get ready for a new shipment method. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, the retail behemoth, recently unveiled the concept of Amazon Prime Air.
The idea is that self propelled flying machines would deliver small packages from Amazon warehouses to customers. Packages could travel from store to house in thirty minutes.
The service is as conceptual as futuristic sports cars that never hit streets, but imagine a world in which people do not personally know their neighborhood mailman. Actually, nobody knows his or her mailman anymore. Imagine a world in which shipment tracking websites are replaced by countdown timers in minutes.
The idea is not new. Companies in China, where trade and aviation regulations are relatively lax, have been testing airborne door deliveries in recent years. But when Amazon walks in the club, the music stops and heads turn. The demand for products is so prominent that retailers are constantly seeking innovative strategies. Eager consumers may have to sit patient for drones, but Black Friday is arriving sooner than ever.
This year, Wal-Mart had one-hour door buster deals beginning at 6 p.m., Thursday. Perhaps Thanksgiving should be celebrated over breakfast because by the time dinner is served, discount divas are sitting cold turkey in parking lots praying that Magic Bullet blenders don’t sell out. Traditional arguments about football over pumpkin pie have transcended to cash register brawls over PlayStations.
Technology and sales have teamed up to defeat tradition and deafen human interaction. From the restaurant to the living room, common personal encounters are abbreviated or eliminated.
Some restaurants have replaced fold-out menus with iPads. Once patrons are seated, they order drinks, appetizers, dinner and dessert from their iPads. Restaurants even offer a solution to ease the waiting period for food. After orders are made, the digital menus become fully functional tablet computers. Eaters can play games or surf the web while their burgers are on the grill. Silencing substantial dinner conversation with family or friends? There’s an app for that.
Everyone is in such a damn rush. All decisions must be efficient and practical. But sometimes substance and meaning are neither efficient nor practical. It takes time to call a friend to say “Happy Birthday”. They might say “thank you” and bore the caller with details of birthday plans. Conversations may lead to durations of double-digit minutes—a danger zone for dialogue. Posting a comment on the birthday boy or girl’s Facebook wall is more efficient and practical.
Developing relationships takes time. In maintaining tenured long-distance friendships. Technology can be a tool as opposed to an obstacle towards this goal. With text messaging, Skype, social media and even obsolete phone calls, people are accessible around the clock and around the globe. But it’s not practical to keep in touch with far away friends. Conversations will likely be periodic at best and significant moments in each others’ lives will be missed. But that is what updates are for—to share memories even if they’re not experienced together.
They say live, laugh, love. But it takes passion, patience and persistence. Pay the opportunity cost and buy into old-fashioned friendship and tradition with substance. It’s the best deal this holiday season. No cash register brawl required.