Since Tom’s birth nearly 17 months ago Karen and I started to do our weekly food shopping online.
It wasn’t that we found visiting a supermarket each week particularly onerous – in fact it was quite nice shopping as a family – it was just that it was so damned time consuming.
OK. OK. It was particularly onerous.
Nearly two hours of our precious weekend disappeared every week up the supermarket swanny. Nothing about supermarket shopping is geared up for ease, efficiency or pleasure. You have to use shoddy, ill-kept equipment (the ubiquitous trolley). You have to fight your way through herds of ignorant, selfish, grumpy animals (other people) barging their way passed you in the opposite direction. And then you have to pay for the entire social carbuncle at the tills which are merely a bottleneck of disgruntlement.
All you need is to have a favourite item of food discontinued or sold out to complete the misery.
Quite frankly shopping was a nightmare.
Hence our eagerness to embrace online “virtual” shopping.
And all in all it’s been great.
You still spend an hour or so doing it because the server is so damned slow but you can sit down while you do it. With a cup of tea. In the comfort of your own home. With the telly on.
And then some nice man in a van delivers it all to your door at a time that you specify.
It’s blooming marvellous.
If only I could find someone to put all the goods away in our freezer once they’ve arrived it would be a perfect system.
Anyway, the near perfect system let us down for the first time yesterday.
The fridge on the van broke down so they couldn’t deliver our fridge / freezer stuff. We could have waited another day for it but with a baby in the house you can’t really go without milk for any length of time. So we elected to physically drive to the store and collect our cold items ourselves.
My God, but it’s amazing how quickly shopping online de-skills you for the real world. The supermarket – once so unpleasantly familiar – is now totally alien... Horrid lighting, aisles like blocked arteries and... worst of all, people... living, breathing, moving people absolutely everywhere.
And not a cup of tea in sight!
I felt like a modern 21st Century man hurled back in time to a medieval darkly bygone age. How can people live like this?
The internet has plainly weakened me. It has destroyed my ability to cope with the real world. Reality has suddenly become antimatter. If it ain’t pixelated I can’t cope. I carry my modem around with me like a security blanket.
I’d already noted my recent inability to cope with the alphabetized system used in CD / DVD shops (where’s the effing search box?) but plainly the malaise is worse than I thought.
The rise of the machines has begun. They are prising us away from the real world one pinkie at a time and are wrapping us up warm and snug in little individual technospheres of automation and one-click ordering.
The game is up. Or rather it has just begun. And what can any of us do but be on permanent stand-by...