Looking for a gift for the inquisitive people in your life? Give an Atlantic subscription this holiday season.

Last week—in need of a cumbersome and voluminous grocery-store haul that certainly required a car and time I didn’t have—I shopped online.

Because I can’t bear to spend any more money with Jeff Bezos than I already do, and because I believe brick-and-mortar stores actually do something for our communities beyond selling goods, I tend to use Instacart, the service that allows you to send one of their shoppers to your store of choice (mine is the ethnic shoppers’ paradise Food Bazaar). As I perused the many brand and size options available to me for garlic marinades, adobo seasonings, and peach nectars, my excitement for the feast I would soon be preparing began to mount.

Three hours and about 20 semi-frantic texts with my personal shopper later, I was throwing on my coat and hoofing it to scour the local mini-marts for the numerous items that had not arrived… and once again wondering if the promise of technological convenience had outweighed the reality of what it could actually deliver.

To read the rest, subscribe to The Atlantic.

Already a subscriber? Sign in