Uber Eats is begging me to come back – but I’m out there in the real world, supermarket shopping. Emma Brocks

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TeaHere’s a sad but satisfying thing that happens when you stop using an online service you’ve become addicted to. This was Facebook a few years ago, when declining engagement sent the social media platform into a frenzy of desperate invites and prompts. It’s refreshingly direct when you fill your basket with groceries and – I can’t recommend it enough, if you’re looking for a short high that comes off the curb – don’t check out, one of the automated messages Triggering bunch, begging you to come back.

This week, in my life, it’s Uber Eats. For the past few years I’ve ordered from them once a week and now I’ve stopped, given the food delivery service’s flurry of semi-hysterical special offers. Every spam text, every begging notice, reminds me of the money I’ve been saving. If you like to reject things (I love to reject things) then this exercise will fascinate you: rejection without the human cost of hurting someone’s feelings.

The bigger picture, obviously, is a consumer trend away from convenience-related services that has increased during the pandemic. With the change in our online habits, the companies that attracted an investment boom and attracted millions are retreating. In the US, instant delivery startups like Byk and Joker, which briefly flourished, are declaring bankruptcy or exiting the US market in 2021. Meal-kit company Blue Apron has seen its share price decline as food costs rise and consumer interest in pricey convenience products wanes. The same goes for Stitch Fix, a service for clothing delivery that briefly boomed during the pandemic. And all this in the context of massive lay-offs in tech at a time when those companies have nowhere left to expand.

Supermarket shopping: ‘The joy of going to one place and doing something during those two years of disruption.’ Photograph: Adam Vaughn / EPA

While this may be bad for the economy, from the perspective of a person trying to leave home, this trend is probably an encouraging sign. Similar encouragement can be drawn from the slowdown at Netflix; Many of us pass out after several hours of watching TV. I’m not exactly out to take an invigorating walk every morning, but I’m reading again, feeling more inclined to work rather than sit on the couch and explore the real world rather than an online experience. If habits developed during the pandemic were to be an indication of the future, as Derek Thompson wrote in the Atlantic last month, “the post-pandemic economy has been much weirder than most people anticipated”.

For me, the strangest of these impulses has been the desire to return to supermarket shopping. It’s partly money; The decline in fast-food delivery income is clearly linked to a decrease in household income. It is also a matter of health; Many of us are still trying to make up for the damage done by all the junk food we consumed during the lockdown.

But of all the habits adopted over the years, it seemed like grocery delivery might be the clear savior. After the pandemic, perhaps no one wants a giant peloton in their living room and the appeal of third places – be it the gym or Starbucks – is enjoying an apparent bounce-back. But supermarket shopping, at least in New York where I live, has rarely been a pleasure. It’s always been time-consuming, stressful and overcrowded, with in-store prices not much less than what you’d pay for delivery. And yet, every Monday, I feel compelled to stand in line at Trader Joe’s and go home with six bags of shopping.

I can deduce that the current climate is a combination of the small satisfactions that come from making modest economies; And something less solid with joy during the interruption of those two years of moving to one place and doing one thing. Energy expenditure has become a virtue in itself. its reverse – in order; Retreating at the facility—and paying for it—seems to belong not only to a tragic period, but to the point where one could go out, using one’s actual body, to feel like a moral failing. If it’s a hair shirt, it probably looks cool in contrast to our pandemic wardrobe. In the meantime, I suspect it’ll never get too old to see Uber Eats go crazy.

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