It’s convenient. “There are no hassles.” “There are no queues.” “You can dress how you want.” “There is no need to deal with incompetent salespeople.” “It’s cheaper.”
All reasons to prefer online — as opposed to real-life — shopping. Add in parking issues and crowds and the arguments for far outweigh the arguments against.
Clothes, household goods, electronics, furniture, food and much more are all available online. Book your movie or theater tickets online to avoid waiting in line. No time or energy to go to the supermarket? It can be done for you! Fancy a cooked meal but do not want to cook? Choose one of the many delivery apps and voilà! Need a diploma or a degree? Why bother with classrooms and students? Go online and study what and when you want. There is a site for everything, all for the purpose of saving time and making life easier. And on top of it all, you don’t even need to know how to spell correctly… our computer’s spellcheck, or apps such as Grammarly, can fix that for you.
Our lives have been completely reformed and we are barely at the beginning of this transformation. Our dependency on everything electronic, smart and robotic has changed the way we perceive our modus vivendi. Favored by the younger generation and increasingly adopted by the older generation — whose motto has become “If you can’t beat them, join them” — this new age has led to a modification of our value system. Whereas “Time is of the essence” used to apply to situations in which a person was at risk, or had to meet a deadline or avoid a breach of contract, today it has come to mean, “I need to make my life easier, I’m saving time.” But what are we saving that time for? To shop? Watch a movie? Cook? These are things that can now be accomplished by the click of a button.
We no longer sit together as a family and converse. We express our feelings by clicking Like or Dislike, as if we can possess only these two opinions.
We Snapchat photos of our food without really knowing what it tastes like. We go on holiday not to relax and enjoy the scenery but to show our followers that we are abroad. We take selfies not because we are important or doing something different, but because we think it’s cool to have yet another photo with a fish-face smile on it.
We are connected to the outside world but disconnected from those who are important. Our priorities have shifted and this trend — contrary to general belief — has led us into loneliness and isolation. We have become sedentary in this new world of immediate gratification and virtual friendships, where physical activity is so “passé.” The worst of it is that we have lost the art of speaking, of communicating with others and of expressing feelings and ideas in a coherent fashion.
Hoda Al-Helaissi has been a member of the Shoura Council since 2013. She is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee within the Shoura.