Have you ever received a curated delivery package? No matter how obscure your interests, you can find a curated box of goodies that satisfies your impulses, needs, or tastes. The options are wide-ranging. On one end, you have the practical: Dollar Shave Club, or produce delivery services, etc. In the middle, you have convenience options: the Blue Aprons of the world that deliver pre-washed and apportioned ingredients so you can whip up dinner in minutes. Then, there’s the leisure category: products like the Box of Awesome, which promises to deliver “thoughtful collections of goods from small-batch brands…for guys who give a damn.”
If you have ever received one of these packages, you understand how awesome they are. The experience can only be likened to getting a care package from mom that first year you’re away from home. She knows exactly what you need, what will put a smile on your face, and what will make your life easier. It’s that element of surprise and excitement that makes these delivery services so enjoyable. Getting a parcel with your name on it never gets old. And thanks to countless apps and online subscription services, we can schedule a constant stream of packages that pack a punch of dopamine.
Why stop at the barber shop to pick up a package of safety razors when you can have it shipped to your door?
Why bother going to your local pub when you can have dinner delivered from an app?
Seriously, why waste time at the grocery store hunting down a bunch of cilantro for your fish taco recipe when you’ll only use a couple sprigs and let the rest wilt in the fridge as the week passes by? Better to only receive the three sprigs you need. No hassle, no mess, no waste.
Today, people gather in cinemas to watch other people play video games with the same fervor and excitement that sports fans bring to the stadium. Considering this, delivery services might seem like the natural progression of our desire to limit our interaction with the outside world. Mix and match the right combination of services, and you can live the good life. You know, a life where you get all you need and want without dealing with actual people—a life completely disconnected from this world, in a glorious bubble that caters to your every need.
The Internet makes this so easy, freeing us up to spend more time in front of the screen. And as we spend more time in front of the screen, we’re spending less time with each other.
More and more apps are trying to incorporate social components. Rave, for example, is an app that lets you watch music videos at the same time as your friends. The videos sync up so that you and your group are all viewing at the exact same time. We may have more screens and more technology than ever before, but we still want company.
In fact, the same delivery services that are helping us avoid the world are also helping us connect with family and friends. Board games are making a huge comeback. This latest surge is far outpacing the early 20th century golden era of board games that brought us Monopoly and Scrabble. We’re talking annual sales growth in the 20-35% range in what is now an $880 million market.
The growth is impressive enough that Hasbro recently launched a subscription box of its own. Sadly, the service is not yet available in Canada, but if you’re a lucky citizen of the United States you can get three games sent to your doorstep every three months for $49.99. But even if it’s not available to Canadians yet, It appears we’re not just bringing razor blades and produce into our homes. We’re bringing friends. We’re bringing in face-to-face communication, which we know to be so critical to human development.
It seems counter-intuitive that as we further digitize our lives we’re simultaneously looking to connect on a human level. Sure, you might be gathered around a board game like Pandemic, working to fight a fake global outbreak, but as you’re doing it, you’re having a real conversation with others.
I still get the odd Pokémon Go zombie wandering down the street, but it would appear that I need not fret about the downfall of humanity just yet.
That desire for face-to-face time should not be lost on communicators. So much is still said at the dining room table, and in a world where those offline experiences appear to be fewer and further in between, they carry that much more weight. Political campaigns have long talked about and organized “friends and family” campaigns, timing strategic announcements near long-weekends in the hopes that families will talk about it when they gather at the table. While it may be tempting to disregard such an approach in what is a mostly digital age, we may want to think twice. In-person opportunities might be more powerful than ever before.