Futuristic food delivery apps have reintroduced Dickensian working conditions – Vladimir McTavish

Nearly three years on from the start of the pandemic, some of the effects of lockdown are still clearly visible.

The streets of Edinburgh have never been busier with cyclists, most of them taking fast food to sedentary customers. After beginning about ten years ago, food delivery apps really took off during Covid.

If anything, they seem to be more popular than ever, despite the fact that we can all actually leave the house to get food. It would appear that many people are still sticking with their lockdown eating patterns.

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During the pandemic, some of us got fit while some of us got fat. Remember when we could only go out of the house once a day? Some of us chose to use this time to go on a long walk, take up jogging or buy a bike. Others took this as the green light to lie on the couch and order their groceries online.

Food apps are a bizarre kind of metaphor for modern society, both futuristic and Victorian at the same time. Anyone too lazy to walk the end of themselves and go to the trouble of cooking their own meals has an unlimited menu on their phone.

By using futuristic technology, they can order any meal they like with one click. And that food will appear at their front door remarkably quickly due to the futuristic technology of some poor guy cycling up a steep hill with a massive day-glow fridge on their back.

These delivery workers may be employed by an algorithm rather than a human being, a concept which could have been thought up by George Orwell in some plot line about a sinister dystopian future, but in many ways, they are a throwback to the past. These people’s working conditions come straight out of a novel by Charles Dickens.

Every night, I drive past these poor drones busting a gut, rattling over cobbled streets in the pouring rain on a zero-hours contract. It seems young people now fall into two very distinct categories. They’re either clinically obese because they can’t be bothered to get off the sofa, or they’re stick thin because they spend their entire working week delivering junk food to lazy slobs.

Junk food is now available by pressing a few buttons from your sofa (Picture: Cate Gillon/Getty Images)