When Amazon first introduced the Dash Button on March 31 of this year, many people thought it was an April Fools' prank. But it’s now clear that the retail giant is hellbent on ensuring that we never have to leave our homes again.
“Keep Dash Button handy in the kitchen, bath, laundry, or anywhere you store your favorite products,” the website explains. “When you're running low, simply press Dash Button, and Amazon quickly delivers household favorites so you can skip the last-minute trip to the store.” For instance, hang a Kraft button on the pantry knob and hit it when you’re running low on macaroni and cheese. A signal will be automatically sent to an app on your smartphone, which in turn will automatically send a refill order to Amazon, and voila — your next five-minute meal will arrive on your doorstep almost instantly. Stick a Tide button on your washing machine, press it when the detergent bottle is almost empty and you’ll never again have to run out to the store to buy it. You won’t even have to drive there. In fact, you won’t have to leave the laundry room. You can just press that button, then watch the clothes spin round and round and round and round…
Besides, we’re far too busy with important tasks [like] populating our streaming video queues ... [and] ensuring social justice by up-voting worthy posts to be burdened by making shopping lists.
Now I admit that the prospect of such a button over the toilet paper dispenser in our bathroom is pretty alluring. It would probably cut the frequency of my marital disputes in half. And if there was one affixed to each carton in our ever-expanding collection of nearly empty cereal boxes, my husband and I would probably never argue again. Besides, we’re far too busy with important tasks — populating our streaming video queues, electronically paying our bills, ensuring social justice by up-voting worthy posts, reading the status updates of the high school friends we haven’t seen in 40 years and the more contemporary ones who, curiously, we don’t seem to get together with much anymore either — to be burdened by making shopping lists.
Of course the skeptics among you may worry about unintended consequences. For instance, I can imagine you wondering: What happens if my toddler is amused by repeatedly pressing the Pampers button? Don’t worry — “Dash Button responds only to your first press until the order is delivered.” Perhaps you spontaneous protein bar eaters or compulsive hand sanitizers or face moisturizers out there are concerned that you might simply give in to uncontrollable impulses. Fear not. “Amazon sends an order alert to your phone, so it's easy to cancel if you change your mind.” I’m telling you — the only thing you’ll run out of is anxiety!
Come to think of it, what if the Dash Button went beyond consumer packaged goods? It’s kind of exciting to think about how daily life could be even better if we could order other, more intangible necessities without having to move.
It’s kind of exciting to think about how daily life could be even better if we could order other, more intangible necessities without having to move.
For instance, I need more patience when talking on the telephone with customer service reps plodding their way through mandatory scripts. I’m ashamed to say that I run low on fairness and balance all too frequently when watching the news; I just keep forgetting to stock up on it. And compassion? Forget about it — I can never find it when I need it most. But man — if I had buttons affixed to the phone, the television, maybe even one planted squarely in the middle of my husband’s forehead, with one flick of a finger, I’d always have the feelings and insights I need!
Of course this does raise some troubling questions around delivery options. For example, if my favorite breakfast food is temporarily out of stock, do I save money by waiting a day and having my instant oatmeal and patience shipped in one package? Or is that too long to wait for patience? Would the people in the warehouse (if there are people in the warehouse) be willing to ship mouse traps and compassion in the same carton, or would that exceed the irony limit (at least for non-Amazon Prime customers)? And can a 50 fluid ounce bottle of detergent dropped from an Amazon drone at an elevation of 100 feet penetrate a roof and touch down without incident on top of my dishwasher?
I can’t wait to find out.