“Us Vs. Stuff” or “What The **** Is Up With Subscription Services?”

Readers, this rambling only semi-coherent post comes from the sickbed of yours truly, where I am currently battling a cold that I just don’t have time for right now.

With that in mind, you might be e’er so slightly charitable when you hear me ask: “No seriously, what’s up with subscription services?”

For those of you who were as unaware as I was (up until a few months ago), the latest trend has folks being sent, well, “boxes of stuff”.

How it works is essentially as follows: one will pay a monthly fee to a company who will, in turn, send said person a box/crate full of items they believe the individual will like. While there is some customization available (I could get a monthly shave-kit delivered, for example), there’s often a certain degree of chance involved. BlueApron.com, for example, will send subscribers recipes with per-packaged ingredients. Other sites, like LootCrate.com will send whatever nerd and geek accoutrements they decide to.

Now readers, maybe its the ongoing battle in my sinus cavity or maybe I really am just a mean, cynical miser, but I just don’t get it. And I don’t mean to come across harsher than I probably will, but I really don’t quite like what this seems to say about us as a culture. Do we really have so much excess cash that we’re just giving it to some strangers and saying “surprise me”?

Granted, we do that a little already, but certainly not to this degree…

I mean, why not just do it yourself and get something which you actually want? Or if it’s a matter of getting pushed outside your comfort zone and trying something new, surely one could just do that his or herself, right? If I’m going to want to get myself some new beer, I’m just going to buy myself some new beer. I’m not gonna make someone else ship it from three states away to only find out that I don’t care for it.

And yeah, I know how petty that sounds. I could try making the environmentalist argument here, but honestly, I doubt the subscription service industry is making all that much of a difference to how things are already. And if this is the way of the future, well I’m certainly not going to want to whine about it simply because it’s strange and new.

The second issue’s equally petty, don’t get me wrong, but is slightly more interesting.

Plenty of these services- especially clothing services like BombFell– have stylists whose sole jobs are to help pick out clothes they believe fit your style.Which again strikes me as both strange and excessive.

Do we really need personal shoppers? Have we collectively arrived at a point where “professional consumer” is a legitimate career path? And I’m not necessarily upset by that, but it does need to be questioned. If who we are is largely reflective of what we create, then what’s it mean to have this kind of life style?

And not to offend anyone who uses these services, but it does strike me as disturbing a grown person would hire someone else to buy surprise gifts for ’em…

And I’m perfectly willing to accept this as just a regular development, no more gratuitous than the ability to order pizza. Does the existence of these middle-men provide a bulwark that’ll improve quality, taste, and even our ability to appreciate things better?

Then again, is an elegantly kneaded black Angus beef patty with fennel and rye crumbs mixed in not still just a burger?

And mind you, we’re not necessarily talking about about pushing the boundaries of human existence here. Overwhelmingly, it’s just more “stuff”, and if there’s one thing that we don’t need more of, it’s stuff.

I’ll let the immortal George Carlin explain:

And since I doubt I’ll be able to top the modern-day Diogenes, and because the confounded plague is consuming more and more of my mental faculties, I’ll leave things here for the time being in the vain hopes for a comment discussion.

Subscription services- natural part of human development, effective tool for refinement, or just the latest symptom of a degenerate and consumerist society?

What’s it gonna be?


2 responses to ““Us Vs. Stuff” or “What The **** Is Up With Subscription Services?”

  1. A family member subscribes to numerous services like you spoke about. I usually get the things she doesn’t like or know what to do with. She also has a healthy Amazon habit. I can’t fathom the amount of money some people spend on stuff. They must have a competitive spirit, because they have to be constantly arguing the logic of it all. I am somehow still hopeful for our species, especially since my well being is dependent upon people buying more stuff. That is my logic anyway.

  2. Subscription services for stuff you need to buy on the reg make perfect sense to me, like razors. Their blades will go dull, you will need to buy more, why not just have some sent to you?

    When it comes to inessential items, though, it really is a gamble. I can see the appeal in being surprised by what you receive, but in general it doesn’t seem to be worth it. I don’t need someone to keep buying me stuff at the risk of me not liking some of it, I’ll just buy what I know I already want.

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