As San Antonio faces the reality of Uber and Lyft pulling out due to recently approved ordinances, I began to think about life before Uber and whether or not Uber has become so embedded in our culture now that we can't imagine life without it.
Remember life before cell phones? Not many can and those that do, still can't live without theirs now. My mother-in-law is in her 80s and is never without hers. She will call my husband every 10-15 minutes until he answers and if he doesn't after 3-4 attempts, she calls me. The concept of leaving a voicemail never enters her mind because she wants to talk to him NOW. He does the exact same thing to her so it may just run in the family. How many people still have a landline? Governments now provide cell phones for free to those who can't afford one for “emergency purposes,” but they have unlimited texting. (Apparently, it's considered cruel and unusual punishment to not make unlimited texting available to everyone.)
Remember life before the Internet? Those who can will remember Encyclopedia Britanica, but woe be unto you if you didn't have the most current version and since it took forever to print the current version, a lot of that information was already outdated as well. Now, anything you want to know is just a Google search away. (Granted, you have to be smarter than a 5th grader in order to realize that not everything on the Internet is true, but the truth is out there.)
Technology has turned us into an entitled society expectant of instant gratification. Want to talk to someone, you can call them, text them, email them or message them on your choice of social media all from a little device that fits in your pocket. Want to see a movie, you can rent it (or in many cases watch it for free) on the same little device, your laptop or even on your big screen via the internet or your on demand cable service. Want Chinese, go online, place your order and voila, it's on your doorstep in 30 minutes or less. Need a new iron or diapers for the baby? Amazon can have it there in 24 hours or less and you never have to get out of your PJs (unless you opt for in-store pickup from anywhere other than Walmart.)
Uber has only been in San Antonio for 10 months, but I've had numerous passengers say they can't live without it. They use it for everything. What will those who have become so dependent on Uber do after April 1? The concept of getting a ride instantly appeals to our on demand culture and because we're so accustomed to getting what we want when we want it, it didn't take long for Uber to embed itself into our lives and become as necessary to some as smartphones and the internet.
Some question the future of Uber. Is there a ridesharing bubble that's about to burst? Will they continue to make rates so ridiculously low that no one will drive anymore? Will they be banned in enough cities and countries to drive them out of the marketplace? Perhaps, but I don't think Uber is going anywhere. Rather, I think it will evolve into something not unlike what we've seen in many sci-fi novels and films. Taxis driven by robots or themselves.
While that may take many years, the laws of supply and demand coupled with the willingness of people to work long hours for pennies will keep Uber in full swing until that glorious day when one will open the door of an Uber car to be greeted with “Hello I'm Johnnycab, where can I take you tonight? “
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