Anyway, amazingly enough, it wasn't the title alone that put me off. In fact, I've re-read this article three or four times now and I still can't figure out exactly what about it fills me with rage. Or sadness. Or some feeling. I don't even know any more. I think I'm past the ability to get mad about how we lost San Francisco. Now I'm just like the French guy weeping when the Nazis march into Paris.
On to the article. It starts with a description of how convenient everything is near the author's "Upper East Side apartment" in New York City and how there are two Starbucks within 1000 feet of his Dream Pad. Two Starbucks! Already sounds like heaven.
Things are more difficult in San Francisco.
It’s not like that in San Francisco, a city where I now have to walk at least 15 minutes up a steep hill to get to my nearest grocery store. Plus, everything closes early. If I want a pint of Ben & Jerry’s at 2 a.m., I can’t just walk to my corner 24/7 bodega like I could in New York. I’m left unsatisfied and ice cream-less.Shield your eyes, children, so you don't have to see Upper East Side struggle 15 minutes up a steep hill for groceries. The nearest Starbucks must be way, way more than 1000 feet away. Maybe even uphill. Suicide is looking good.
But wait! In today's San Francisco, there is never a reason to walk uphill or even interact with any of your fellow recent arrivistes.
New Yorkers are probably already familiar with the food-delivery service Seamless, but in San Francisco there’s a Seamless-like app for everything. Your laundry. Housekeeping. Groceries. Car rides. Even booze. And it all comes almost instantly.Truly we are living in the Promised Land, where even New Yorkers can get instant food delivery in San Francisco. When we have finished remaking the city, no upper middle class white person shall ever want for anything again. Starbucks every 999 feet.
I also tried Washio, a service that will pick up your dirty laundry and dry cleaning and have it back to you within 24 hours. Like Sprig, you manage Washio through a smartphone app to schedule your pickup and drop off times. Washio has an army of contractors—or, in startup parlance, “ninjas”—who swing by your place to get your dirty clothes. They also give you a free cookie with every pickup. The first time I tried Washio, my ninja gave me a bonus—a free pair of underwear as part of a cross promotion with another startup. (Yes, you can also get on-demand underwear in San Francisco.)
A free cookie! I LOVE COOKIES! And ninjas handing out underwear. The future will be bright, and we will all wear clean underwear.
(In case you're wondering, unlike your Mom, Washio charges $1.60 a pound to do your laundry, with a minimum 15 pound order, so $24 for your smallest load. Before we moved and I had a washer/dryer in my house, I used to drop off my laundry at my local wash & fold which charged $1.50 a pound. I have no idea how Washio is going to make money.)
A dark cloud approaches. Not everything is right in Magic Startup Land. A wrinkle has arrived that threatens to ruin Upper East Side's User Experience.
The only negative experience I’ve had so far was with Instacart, an app that sends a personal shopper to a nearby grocery store to pick up whatever you need and deliver it to you within an hour. It works as advertised, but the prices are marked up, and customers run the risk of not being able to get what they want because the store is out of stock. Instacart’s shoppers try their best to find similar items, but in my case I couldn’t justify buying a five-pound package of bananas instead of a normal bunch.WHAT THE! The unmitigated GALL of marking up prices when you have a ninja who works on commission and tips doing your grocery shopping for you! They don't mark prices up at the bodega when I go to get ice cream at 2 a.m.!
So there you go. It's fun to snark at this and we've had our laughs but I still can't put my finger on what it is about this that bothers me. Maybe it's just the continuing thread of infantilization, with apps replacing your Mom. Or maybe that the life the author describes is one in which all the opportunities we used to have for interacting with other citizens - going to the laundromat, grocery shopping, going out to a restaurant - are being replaced by home delivery through your smartphone. If you never have to see anyone from a different social strata (or, for that matter, a different fucking type of company), it's easy to dismiss their concerns. Why does the Bayview need a grocery store? Just use Instacart! Why should I worry about the terrible public transit? I take Uber everywhere. Ew, homeless people. Leaving my apartment is the worst.
It's a lot of things. Welcome to the New San Francisco, I guess.