Bring on the end of Australia’s obsession with delivery culture



Or you might witness their explosive frustration when an order is delayed or mixed up or cancelled, as if it were an injustice worthy of The Hague. It’s a burrito, people – it’s not the end of the world.

Loading

Not only have the apps tickled our penchant for rapid gratification, they’ve accustomed us to infinite choice. Yes, you could walk to the high street and choose from half a dozen local restaurants – or you could browse hundreds on your phone. The tech companies and evangelists want us to believe this is optimal living. But overwhelming choice is not necessarily the utopia some think it is.

I’m not a complete Luddite; I use the streaming services and I think it’s a vast improvement over the days when television meant five free-to-air channels and cable if you could afford it. But streaming is arguably at its best when a new episode of the latest craze drops and everyone’s talking about it the next day – in other words, when it resembles TV.

Infinite choice and personal convenience lead us away from shared, collective experience. Food delivery is anti-social: even if you were only going to trudge up the street to pick something up, that’s an activity which involves interactions with other people, however cursory. Staying home chips away at the public square.

As pandemic lockdowns and hibernation ended, the return to “real life” was always going to disadvantage the apps that encourage us to stay home. In the US, DoorDash’s share price dropped from a high of $US246 ($367) in November 2021 to $US43 in October. Uber’s has now halved from its high above $US60 in the first half of 2021.

Loading

reporting on the end of America’s obsession with food delivery earlier this yearNBC speculated several factors were involved; The end of COVID and the renaissance of restaurants, yes, but also inflation and frustration with higher prices and charges on the apps.

Deliveroo’s demise is hardly the end of delivery culture – it’s probably just a boon for competitors. It would be great, though, if it marked a point at which Millennials pivoted away from our reliance on having food pumped in by underpaid couriers and embraced the DIY world of browsing, discovery, happenstance and randomness – you know, the real world.

The evidence is mixed but some surveys both in Australia and overseas suggest Generation Z might be slightly less inclined than Millennials to use food delivery apps. Perhaps if UberEats started delivering reusable water bottles or therapy sessions, that would change.

At any rate, it seems clear Zoomers are not significantly more likely to use the apps than their predecessors, arresting the notion that technological convenience is on a linear and unrelenting march through our lives. And once again, that’s probably a good thing.

So, farewell Deliveroo – I hardly knew ye. I don’t think I missed out on all that much.

The Opinion newsletter is a weekly wrap of views that will challenge, champion and inform your own. Sign up here,

More from our award-winning columnists

An anxious nation: Mortgage stress, COVID burnout, extreme weather and the cost of living crisis – no wonder Australia’s status as the “lifestyle superpower of the world” is under threat – Nick Bryant

The future of democracy: Australia must learn from America’s descent into extreme inequality, which has led to deep discontent. It must also do more to civilise “social” media – the great amplifier of hate – Peter Hartcher

Behind the interview: Shane Warne may have been the greatest bowler legendary interviewer and cricket lover Michael Parkinson has ever seen, but he’s not his favorite interview – Peter FitzSimons

- Advertisement -

Comments are closed.