A food delivery company rolls out an instant delivery plan. You have craving for a particular food; with a touch on the mobile screen you place the order, within 10 minutes food will be delivered at your doorstep. Isn’t it crazy? It takes more time to cook a packet of much touted 2- minute noodles if you take into account all the preparation time. But here, you don’t even have to plan your meal in advance and wait for it; the dish of your choice is in front of you within minutes. I am left gaping.
Ten-minute food delivery may sound great but at what cost? Just imagine the amount of pressure on the poor delivery personnel. There they are, speeding recklessly on roads riddled with potholes risking their lives and that of others. As it is, Indian roads are overcrowded, and to add to unruly traffic are delivery persons rushing on their bikes in every plausible trajectory to meet the deadline. Faster the delivery schedule, greater the risk.
But, is all this risk necessary? To me it belies all logic. What is the emergency? It is not a house on fire that fire brigade needs to be rushed immediately. Food can wait! We would much rather have police and ambulance instantly than food.
But the fact is a number of ‘quick commerce’ grocery startups have come up and their market is expanding rapidly in India. These companies are shortening their delivery time to meet instant shopping needs of the customers, especially the youngsters among whom fast delivery service is already a rage. It is a separate question how sustainable and viable the quick delivery model is, given numerous logistic challenges for the companies.
From fast to faster delivery, the aim is to shrink the time between desire, action and gratification to almost zero. But, quite frankly, an old timer like me doesn’t understand the need for instant delivery of food and grocery. When we were kids; home delivery was unheard of. Instant gratification was something unknown to us. Patience was considered to be a virtue, rather a necessity. Nothing came easy. In the absence of household gadgets, everything was time-consuming. Not that our mothers were less obliging in catering to our food cravings, but food had to be pre-planned and cooking was a lengthy process. We had no option but to wait patiently for the food to be ready.
As opposed to my generation that learnt the art of deferred gratification which supposedly builds self-control and self-discipline, Generation Z is getting accustomed to expecting instant gratification. But, where is this obsession with immediate fulfillment leading the millennials to? Is it good for their emotional and physical wellbeing? Are they not becoming more and more impatient and restless? Do they really value and cherish what they get instantly?
While the delivery companies work out the logistics of faster delivery, I leave with these questions to ponder over the impact of instant gratification.
(Published in the Tribune as MIDDLE 20 April 2022)