It seems like every day we lose another part of the physical world we took for granted to some genius in Silicon Valley who’s figured out how to digitize it. Gone are the days when journaling in MS Word or rocking out to Deftones involved leaving your parents’ house, going to a store, and buying a CD-ROM. Everything’s in the cloud now, and your access to it is contingent on you making regular tithe payments to the rain gods of the present age: subscription-hungry companies like Microsoft and Apple.
But what about the most familiar and handy material objects we have, the ones you use to groom and nourish your body? Will food, soap, and cosmetics become the last remaining bastions of an IRL shopping culture, or will they too go the way of software and music? Has the day already arrived when you can source your entire self-care routine from an online, subscription-based delivery service? Welcome to the future, my friends: it totally has.
In the old days, clans of hunting and gathering proto-humans roamed the earth before advances in technology enabled them to practice industrial agriculture and open supermarkets. Here at the end of history, however, companies like Blue Apron and HelloFresh will send you a refrigerated box of individually shrink-wrapped fruits, vegetables, and meats along with instructions on how to combine them with gas-powered or electric heat to make food. You can have enjoy a convenient and “sustainable” home-cooked meal that begins with a fun new challenge: tearing at plastic packaging before giving up and looking for scissors!
For a base price of $25, plus a $5 trimonthly payment for replacement heads, you can be the proud owner of Quip, a high-tech electric toothbrush from the internet. How is Quip different from a regular electric toothbrush you could get the drugstore or dentist? Branding. That is it.
Is the thought of having a nicely arranged box of domestic goodies delivered to your door making you feel emasculated? Worry not, bro, they have guy stuff too. Send your monthly payment to Dollar Shave Club or Harry’s and get monthly refills of razorheads, shave products, and reassurance that you have a big, stubbly beard, which you dutifully shave, because you are a man.
Makeup Sample Kits
If you like feeling femme, though, all the better—capitalism’s got you. If you liked getting free makeup samples at Sephora, how about paying every month to have a box of not-so-free samples sent to your house? From Birchbox to POPSUGAR, there are dozens of companies that offer subscriptions to try-before-you-buy makeup boxes… almost as if advertising to women is incredibly lucrative…
Now that you’ve been fed, bathed, and groomed via online subscription products, it’s time to get dressed. Complete your look with some clothing offerings from companies like MM LaFleur, which will send you women’s workwear options, or Bombfell, which I guess is like, “chill guy” clothes. Keep and pay for only what you like, these companies assure you, conveniently forgetting to mention that returning a delivery is much more difficult and time-consuming than receiving one.
But maybe, looking sharp in a selection of pre-packaged clothes that a “personal stylist” picked just for you, you won’t even care. Look in the mirror. Who is that? The flawed, messy, angsty Korn fan you once were is gone; in their place, a factory-fresh shell for the mind of a perfect adult, downloaded straight from the cloud.