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graphic for article about mobile ordering
graphic for article about mobile ordering
Allie Bausinger

Mobile Order: Convenient or Corrupt

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

Twenty minutes into waiting for my Starbucks order, I couldn’t help but to notice the abundance of others who waddled straight past the curved line to the pick-up counter, where their chai tea lattes and nitro cold brews awaited them on a makeshift throne entitled “mobile.” 

I knew that people used mobile order, but I definitely underestimated the popularity of skipping lines. Who knew that smartphones could actually be that smart? Maybe I’m just that dumb. 

After consulting with my inner 72-year-old, I came to the conclusion that I would give it a try.

Over the next couple of weeks, I utilized mobile order at places like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, and I must admit, the convenience is all there. Being able to walk right in and then right out with whatever you purchased is easy. As technology advances, that is what consumers want: easiness and efficiency. Is it really that difficult to wait in a line, though? 

Waiting in lines can be aggravating if you are in a rush, but why not plan ahead to allot yourself that extra however many minutes you need to grab a cup of coffee or a snack? This is not asking a lot.

Usually, when you purchase something, the first name on your credit card, that is synced with your phone, is utilized. The trouble with this is obvious. There are several people who have the same names, meaning there are several opportunities to spend money and get something you did not want. Now, you could just look at the slip provided with the order to make sure it is what you, yourself, chose, before actually departing from the store, but in an age of rushing, this is not always feasible.

Mobile order is essentially feeding on consumers’ inability to simply breathe. On apps such as Starbucks, for instance, if you are utilizing a credit or debit card and need to add more money to your account, the lowest amount you can add is ten dollars. This is a bit annoying, considering a cup of coffee is not that much on its own. If someone doesn’t feel like waiting in line because she needs to get to the office for a meeting, she may just add the minimal amount of ten dollars, even if she only spends four. Since she already added the money, she has no choice but to go back for more, or else waste the money.

In an overwhelmingly capitalist society, companies know how to make the most money in the shortest amount of time. In part, it is done by targeting a population that does not know how to slow down. Not to sound like a boomer, but technology is detrimental in this case. In a society that is enveloped in smartphones and tablets, social media and internet-savvy shopping, we have lost our sense for individuality, for recognizing the beauty that stands right in front of us.

Not only does mobile order disrupt the flow of society, but it disrupts the work flow of many underpaid employees, reinforcing capitalistic notions. 

I have noticed that customers don’t take the time to actually interact with anybody, however still expecting the utmost service. They want what they want, when they want it. What gives someone the right to think in this way? 

It could be centered around the glossy device in her hand that provides instant gratification. In the form of several Google search results with minimal researching effort — or perhaps the ability for an automated voice to take you wherever you want to go — it is no wonder that people feel the need to have their wants not only met, but surpassed inside and outside of virtual means.

Now, I’m not saying that we should go back to an age when we utilized only libraries for research, or maps for travel, but we should make a conscious effort to understand how this newfound technology can negatively affect our attitudes and expectations. 

With knowing how such technological means teach us to believe that everything needs to happen in the blink of an eye, we can control our minds from feeding into such basic standards.  

If you do decide to use mobile order, you shouldn’t expect that your purchase is in the store waiting for you when you get there. If you ask Siri to tell you what song is playing on the radio, you shouldn’t get mad if the song switches to another before she can answer. 

How exactly should you go about this way of thinking? Simply, do not rely solely on a metal device to feed you information and efficiency. Use your mind, instead. Tell yourself, “It’s ok that I have to wait five minutes in a line. I won’t die.”

I don’t want to come across as being that one Gen Z kid who is anti-technology, because that is definitely not who I am. I, too, use technology all of the time, but I have also noticed how it has negatively affected my perceptions. 

My phone has made me entitled. There, I said it. 

I don’t have to think as much or put in as much effort into everyday life. Everything is literally right there, at my fingertips. As this cliché phrase points out, I do not have to go through the world to find answers. 

Ultimately, this is limiting my experience as a human being. It is limiting my experience in truly seeing the world for what it is. Instead, I have been seeing it through a perpetual lens crafted by society, that allows only certain visuals to form. We are seeing only what we want to see.

Taking the time to just look about, people-watch or look at the actual menu instead of the one listed on your phone provides people with an opportunity to see how the world is acting, to see how we communicate with one another, to see how fast people move. We can observe how we listen to background music, how we listen to the tones of people’s voices and how we listen to nature, as cliché as it may sound. 

Taking out the time to sense the world around you is not only beneficial to yourself and your mind, but also to society in a broader view. We can formulate discussions surrounding how to improve society, instead of just thinking of how we can remove ourselves from it.

Jordan Holsopple is a senior at Penn State. She's majoring in digital and print journalism, with minors in English and women’s studies. When she's not writing for Her Campus at PSU, you can catch her experimenting with makeup, watching lots of TLC and spreading the word about the importance of feminism.
Allie Bausinger is a Penn State University graduate who majored in Print/Digital Journalism with a minor in English. She is from "outside Philadelphia," which in her case is Yardley, Pennsylvania. Allie is looking for full-time employment in writing, editing, fact-checking, podcasting, and other areas of the journalism and writing fields.