A recent article in Vanity Fair about the dating app “Tinder” and another piece this week in the New York Times profiling working conditions at Amazon get Peter and Paul talking. First, they discuss the “Cult of Urgency” that is created when customers demand things faster, sooner and cheaper. It’s the “Culture of Now” and it’s creating a society of impatience. More ominously, companies such as Amazon, Tinder and Uber are changing the way that customers relate to the marketplace. In the past, many exchanges where relational, where the power dynamic was shared; today’s apps allow for much of life to become merely transactional. Peter and Paul consider what’s lost as a result. Later in the episode, Peter and Paul consider how the work-life balance is different across the pond and how the “Game of Life” concept is thoroughly American in that winners are celebrated, losers shunned. We end on a discussion of Jeremy Corbyn and the difficulty of aligning one’s ideals with one’s habits. Hypocrisy ensues.

  • John

    Great episode. Not sure there’s a direct equivalence between working conditions at Amazon and the customer experiences of people using Uber and Tinder. There is undoubtedly merit in the general thesis that the modern world has certain dehumanising effects, but Amazon staff and the users of these other apps are on opposite sides of the fence, so to speak.

    The reason Amazon staff are suffering (if the report is true – Besos has of course refuted it) is because of the inherent problem at the heart of capitalism as expressed by modern corporations — there can be no end to growth. Every company obsessively pushes for greater revenue, market share and profit quarter-on-quarter, year-on-year. A plateau is never reached. The drive forwards is unrelenting — even in industries that are quite clearly declining, such as newspapers. No CEO could say “I think we’ve reached our full potential — let’s stay at this level and not push for growth next year” without being fired by the shareholders. The staff are caught up in the meatgrinder, victims of the relentless drive for even better annual results.

    It seems to me flawed logic for anyone at a corporation to view their labour as having some kind of moral or ethical value. In most cases they are working for exceptionally wealthy shareholders whose desire for even greater gain is driven by what they might describe as market conditions, but is in fact simply greed. I would agree that work in itself can have a great psychological benefit for people (and perhaps a spiritual one), but people’s efforts would be better directed to their own enterprises, business or personal, rather than pushing more cash into Wall Street.

    The situation for the users of Tinder and Uber is different — they both benefit from convenience brought about through so-called big data. Whether the resulting human connections are debased as a result is questionable – even if you set up a date via Tinder, it’s still two people meeting up who will have a genuine interaction (even if it turns out to be short lived). I’ve had mini-relationships with girls I’ve met through Tinder – the technology doesn’t preclude that. The same thing goes for Uber — just because you call a cab through an app doesn’t mean you can’t have a nice chat with the driver. Interesting to find out how the staff at Uber and Tinder are treated as they strive to deliver, though.

  • SD

    There is nothing wrong with the culture of now. Everything has been more or less figured out so unless its innovations, everything else can be right fully streamlined at all levels to meet the requirements of consumers.

    • Hey SD

      Thanks for your comment. It is cool and good to hear you embrace the culture of now. Many people engage in it willingly, then resent it.

      What would be the tipping point where you would draw the link and say ‘this is getting out of hand?’

      Love to hear more thoughts.

      Keep spreading the word about the podcast. We both really appreciate your support.


      Peter & Paul.

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