an app for that

18615614_s“Shut-ins” used to be old people who couldn’t make it out to church. Today the term is being used to describe a class of workers whose apps allow them to never leave their apartments.

An array of app-based delivery services allows up and coming technology and financial services workers in urban centers to come home and stay there. Need someone to walk your dog, wash your dishes, stock your pantry or do your laundry? There is an app for that.

Some of these companies actually market the idea that there is no need to interact with anyone. Ever.  GrubHub, a food delivery service, puts it this way: ““Everything great about eating, combined with everything great about not talking to people.”

There is even a service to coordinate all these apps and deliveries for you—a company called Alfred sends a personal butler to accept the deliveries and put them away. So what do these people do with all the time they are saving, besides binging on NetFlix and buying more stuff on Amazon? One venture capital company says now people can “monetize their time and pursue their passions.” People could always do this.

But according to Lauren Smiley these on-demand services raise new issues of class and gender—75% of “Alfreds” are women for example. It certainly complicates the notion of “privilege.” Smiley observes “the on-demand world isn’t about sharing at all. It’s about being served. This is an economy of shut-ins.”

The end of chores may be a millennial fantasy.

But it’s coming true.

[Nothing here suggests these people aren’t working—many of them are working very hard, or at least long hours. But what are the implications of this? The end of the middle class? Spiritual drought? Reduced communication? Weigh in below with your concerns.]

Look for more on this topic next week on #MillennialMonday

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