After roughly figuring out the rise and fall of social connectedness for our current cycle, the thing that really crystallized how similar the mid-century was in its cocooning was writing about the drive-in restaurant. Then, oddly enough, recognizing that it has undergone a revival since the 1990s, with Sonic Drive-In being the most successful franchise.
Later there was news about Burger King test-marketing a delivery service, which has gone into full effect in many large cities across the country by now. Not to mention other largish chains like Jimmy John's that deliver by bicycle. For the entire 1970s through the '80s, Domino's was the only pizza delivery chain. Starting in the early '90s, everyone else suddenly jumped on the bandwagon, beginning with Pizza Hut, which used to be a sit-down restaurant. No new technology had made this easier on the supply side, so that signaled an abrupt change in preferences on the demand side. Fewer and fewer people felt like going out like they had just 5-10 years earlier.
Now an article in the NYT details how the model of "delivery anytime, anywhere" has become pervasive in a city that you'd think from its re-branding campaign of the 1990s was more open to socializing. Not anymore, though. "The city that never sleeps" used to refer to a work hard / play hard lifestyle (CBGB, Studio 54, Danceteria). Since the '90s, it refers to the workaholic, OCD, earbuds-at-the-gym, get-outta-my-way, hive-mindedness of its insectoid population. Physically crammed in, yet psychologically disconnected.
Perhaps nothing is dearer to New Yorkers than the idea that in this city, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor put it this year, “I order food, it’s at my door in 10 to 15 minutes. O.K.?” (Justice Sotomayor, who grew up in the Bronx, had unkind words for Washington restaurants, where “there isn’t a place I call where it doesn’t take 45 minutes.”)
The horror of having to leave the work-hive and interact with the hu-mahns! Why can't we just have a fleet of drones deliver our meals, so we never have to leave our snug little cells? Used to be that getting the fuck out of the office for some fresh air and fresh faces was something that normal people looked forward to every day. Otherwise the workplace gets too stifling, and it mushifies the brain.
Are Millennials so autistic that they would actually place a delivery order from inside another restaurant?
When Market Table, the West Village restaurant that Jules Auger’s friends had picked for dinner one night, ran out of the cheeseburger special, Mr. Auger, unwilling to commit to the prix fixe menu his friends had chosen — and apparently unmoved by the restaurant’s two-star review in this newspaper, its five-star raves on Yelp or its recommendation in the Michelin guide — pulled up Seamless on his smartphone.
A cheesesteak place promised speedy delivery. Mr. Auger instructed the deliveryman to come to the restaurant and seek out the hostess, who — while not exactly amused — condoned Mr. Auger’s alternate dinner.
“I think she thought it was a joke,” said Mr. Auger, an intern at an advertising agency. “Didn’t get kicked out, though.”
More befuddled was the deliveryman who showed up outside, seemingly expecting an apartment building. Mr. Auger hurried outside to receive his cheesesteak (“quite mediocre,” he recalled), which he ate outside, he said, “out of respect.”
It's not enough for a "group" of people to all pull out their phones and seal themselves off in their own separate worlds -- they each have to place delivery orders from different places, so that there will be no sense of sharing a meal. Might as well all eat outisde too ("out of respect" -- what a baldfaced retard), and in stalls separated by privacy partitions. Then we can text each other, or post on each other's Facebook about how quite mediocre the whole experience was, without even re-grouping afterward. These wild 'n' crazy kids these days...
It's amazing that the basic rules governing meal-sharing should have to be spelled out, but what can you expect from the sperg-iest generation in history?
People ask every once in awhile, Do you notice any signs of the cocooning behavior slowing down or reversing? Zero. It's still getting worse with every year. These cycles seem to last about 60 years, with a longer roughly 35-year swing upward (more outgoing, rising-crime) and a shorter 25-year decline (cocooning, falling-crime). That still leaves us with perhaps another 5 years or so before we hit rock bottom and begin to turn around. Today's social zeitgeist is closest to the early 1950s, not the later half when things begin to shake up.