A few months ago, as my boyfriend and I were moving out of our apartment, and we found our fridge barren, we decided to use one of those coupon codes to order a box of Hello Fresh. You know, the kind of meal service which promises to replace the inconvenience of selecting recipes, trekking to the grocery store, and measuring out portion of food. Marketed towards the “busy working class” or “people who are tired of eating the same thing over and over again”, a meal service, such as Hello Fresh, supposedly takes all of the un-fun things out of prepping dinner, and leaves the consumer with the fun things, such as eating.
As we ate through our Hello Fresh box (and limpy carrots) all I could think about is: since when did we morph into a society that we consider taking care of basic human needs as so inconvenient that we must employ meal services, such as Hello Fresh, shopping services, such as Click List, laundry services, pet walking services, driving services, etc.–because we cannot fathom to do those on our own? Basic human survival needs: water, food, clothing, sleep (of course, in this list, I still do recognize that here, we are listing Basic First World Survival Needs, and in fact, if we take it down to the very core, all we really need is clean water, food, and a safe place to sleep–we could technically even do without clothes, depending on the climate we live in).
Since when did managing these basic human survival needs become burdens?
I think this began very early in our high school lives. We were told, “Follow passion! Find a job that engages you!”. What we learned from our parents and our counselors and all of those career-interest inventories we were forced to take in high school, is that IF we do not like what we are doing, then it must not be the right fit for us, because there are a plethora of options out there. This continued when we graduated college and found jobs, we expected to have FUN at those jobs 100% of the time. We expected to feel fulfilled every day, to laugh, be jolly and merry with all of our co-workers, and to roll out of bed every morning, with a spring in our step, and be excited to go into work. So, when we encountered a dull-drum day, when we decided we could not be polar opposites to our fellow co-workers, and when we lingered in bed a little too long because the last place we wanted to appear was work, we decided we needed to just find another job. And since the world is so full of options, it will be easy for us to just quit and find something else that we are, in fact, passionate about. We downloaded an app, we submitted a resume to a platform, and we saw that there are 100 other companies looking to hire us, and we walked out of our job that day. YOLO.
When we found our next DREAM company, and they told us the traditional 9-5 no longer existed (no guaranteed salary, health insurance, 401K, etc.), but they’d offer us a super sweet break room space, unlimited sick time, and free beer on Fridays, we took the job and then realized it would not pay the ever-increasing rent, but because it was our DREAM job, we decided we’d just find a couple side hustles to make up the difference in our rent payment. And, because there are now these super convenient apps, our side hustles can be driving Uber, walking people’s dogs, selling nutritional tea and boxes of gummy vitamins, etc.
This is how, I believe, services, such as Hello Fresh, have come about. Because, as Millennials, we think we should always be happy, and selecting recipes impedes on that happiness because it is not fun; we think we should always be enjoying every single thing that we do, and going grocery shopping is not enjoyable (especially since we risk running into those people we tried to slide into their DM’s last weekend); we work so many jobs that we do not have the time to take care of these basic human needs, so its easier to just use our Wag-N-Walk income to pay someone else to measure out the spices for our meals. This is how we morphed into a culture where we see these basic, everyday elements necessary for human survival–eating, cleaning, sleeping, grocery shopping, doing laundry, walking our dogs, driving, etc.–as annoying, inconvenient, a burden and altogether, a big waste o’ time.
I recently purchased a brand new house, which, after living the Millennial lifestyle for the last 12 years, may seem like a limitation on that freedom we characteristically enjoy. Everything in my new house takes three times as long; we don’t know where anything is, we are still figuring out which light switch turns on which lights, and the water level in the eco-friendly toilets seems to be off. We spend a majority of our weekends, opening boxes and screwing furniture together, measuring fence lines and returning items to Home Depot, Googling “what those wires in the ceiling are for”. We have absolutely no cleaning routine, we consistently forget which day the trash goes out on, and a few times more than I’d like to admit, my car went a little too far into the garage…
Of course, because time is limited, all of these tasks cut into my traditionally Millennial lifestyle. I have less time to romp around on social media, less energy to check on the Wag-N-Walk app, and definitely less money to go on lavish vacations and excursions.
But, I’ve also found that when I switch my mindset away from, “these are the basic human survival tasks that I MUST do” (such as grocery shopping, cleaning, doing laundry, etc.) and I think, “these are the basic human survival tasks that I GET to do”–“I GET to explore about all the different options for ceiling fans”, “I GET to establish a cleaning routine of my very own”–“I GET to learn about the kinds of flavors that work together in a meal and the kinds of flavors that do not (eww, hoisin sauce)”–the basic human survival tasks do not seem so inconvenient, annoying, and burdensome, but rather enjoyable.