One of the most famous characters in Russian literature is Ilya Ilyich Oblomov, who spends most of the first half of the long 1859 novel “Oblomov” languishing in bed.
“Oblomovism” entered the Russian vocabulary, referring to an intense state of sloth and entropy. Isn’t that where we are headed, I ask myself? Thanks to the all-powerful smartphone, I may never leave this chair again.
Take, for instance, the iPhone app Washio, which will pick up your laundry and deliver it to your door. The delivery staff are called “ninjas,” a nice piece of human relations newspeak redolent of Subway’s famous “sandwich artists,” fast food McJobbers if ever there were any. Of course, “ninja” sounds better than “underpaid flunky.”
I don’t mind doing laundry, but I must be in the minority. What Silicon Valley calls the “laundry space” is quite crowded, with companies like Cleanly, Rinse and Chicago-based Dryv eager to attack those pesky collar stains. The iTunes web page that explains Washio (Lead review: “Great idea but HORRIBLE execution”) also refers you to a dog-walking app, a shipping app and the aforementioned Rinse. (Second review: “Worst service ever.”)
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Forget going to the basement to do laundry; who has time to go to the liquor store? Thank heavens for the iPhone and Android app Drizly, which delivers what its website calls “The Joy of Drinking” to legal-age customers.
Founded by two Boston College students in 2013, Drizly now has plenty of competitors in what Silicon Valley calls “the intoxication space.” Apple’s App Store offers several other push-button hooch services (Minibar, Saucey) that promise more or less what Drizly does. Bottoms up!
Did you doubt for a moment that there would be a marijuana delivery app? A few months ago, Snoop Dogg, the famous rapper-actor-youth football coach, invested in a San Francisco pot delivery service called Eaze. The New York Post called Eaze “a fast-growing mobile app that’s looking to become the ‘Uber for pot.’” (Does anyone remember how Snoop gave up weed, temporarily, when he started coaching kids? I do.)
Eaze will have plenty of competition, especially in Colorado and Washington, where pot is legal. (Grassp, Canary, NestDrop and Flow Kana are among the startups in what Silicon Valley calls the “spliff space.”) But you have to admire EazeMD, which hooks you up with a doctor’s note and pot in California, where smoking is limited to purportedly medicinal users.
Last month Forbes reporter Ryan Mac scored some medical weed by describing his carpal tunnel pain in a brief video chat with a Los Angeles-based internal medicine specialist. The doctor “asked me some cursory questions about my wrist and noted in less than three minutes that he didn’t ‘see any reason why (I) shouldn’t try marijuana to help with the pain,’” Mac reported.
The dope arrived a few minutes later.
The possibilities are endless. Apple will happily let you download the Plowz and Mowz apps, which summon helpers (what? no ninjas?) to mow your lawn or plow your driveway. (Lead review: “NEVER use Plowz & Mowz. NEVER!”) If you text Boston-based Savanna, they will send someone to cut your hair.
The on-demand taxi app Uber has already spawned UberEATS – food delivery – and my favorite, Uber Blowout, a California-based Drybar beauty salon that treats you to an Uber ride after doing your hair. There are of course several other entrants in what Silicon Valley calls the “Big Hair space.”
After about 150 pages, Ilya Oblomov left his bedchamber and discovered the complicated joys and sufferings of life outside the home. Thanks to our 21st-century smartphones, we will be spared that awful fate.
Alex Beam is a Boston Globe columnist.