Much Ado About Uber…

And I Remember It Back When It Was Just a Prefix… After the Break…

Much Ado About Uber…

I’m beginning to think that, whenever companies or industries panic over the sudden popularity of a new competitor, our society has progressed as a civilization.

History tells us that companies are always quick to over-litigate. The controlling interests of the cartoon superhero “Superman” attempted to sue just about everyone and everything that even vaguely resembled a superhero, citing that those entities were merely trying to copy the traits (and success) of their Kryptonian crusader. The RIAA (The Recording Industry Association of America) went into the organizational equivalent of epileptic shock, spasming out lawsuits at a dizzying pace to just about anyone and anything that might have downloaded an MP3 file (a music format file) once the Internet-based company “Napster” became popular. The religion “Scientology” has a historic reputation of being quick with the litigation in protecting it’s interests (along with a slew of tactics viewed as questionable) as a legitimate religion from Internet critics who say otherwise. And who hasn’t heard of “The Great Firewall of China” or of North Korea and the “Guardians of Peace” hacking (which, of course, are completely and totally unrelated despite the highly coincidental timing)?

In the words of Shakespeare, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

And now there’s another one: Uber.

I’m not in the market for a driving service. I have no need for one. Yet this isn’t the case for millions, tens of millions and even hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. Some people may only need such a service a few times in their entire life. Some might need such a service a few times each year. Some may need it a few times each week.

In Walt Disney’s original vision of EPCOT (Back when it was still envisioned to be a city and not a theme park), the public transportation system for that endeavor was to be exhaustive to the point where you would only have to walk for a few minutes before some form of automated transportation took over and transported you to your destination in a faster and more efficient manner. We don’t live in that world or anything close to it. Cities, to be certain, have some form of comprehensive public transportation system – It has to; It has millions of people living in a very small, very cramped environment. Cities can’t afford to have everyone possess individualized motorized transportation and so it needs to invest in transportation through bulk, either by buses or trains or boats… But public transportation can’t do it all. It can’t be all things for all people. Even the largest, densely-populated cities that have the most renown transportation systems, there lies privatized, commercialized transportation. There are bicycle couriers, there are limousines and taxis and gondolas and rickshaws.

And right now, Uber is shaking those limousines and taxis services to their core. As someone has stated, Uber is to the taxi service was Napster was to the music industry.

Uber is an Internet service that allows people to share rides with one another. There are more in-depth descriptions for that service but that is, essentially, the point of Uber. Yes, you can charge someone money if you want to drive someone from Point A to Point B but you don’t have to.

There has been great and rising uproar over whether Uber is legal or illegal or somewhere in between. Different parts of the world already have different legalities for what Uber is or isn’t.

Yet everyone is missing the point. The lead, if it were, is buried within the story of governments banning Uber or not banning Uber.

The lead, in fact, has been buried every time there is any similar such uproar over anything that gains in popularity.

“The lead” is that the standard business model that everyone had gotten used to has changed and people don’t like change and they especially don’t like change when their livelihoods depend upon it.

The enemy wasn’t the pen and paper role-playing game “Dungeons & Dragons”: The enemy was that millions of teenagers and young adults were stuck in a stagnant economy without much prospect for meaningful employment. Can you really blame innocent escapism when the alternative was still a simmering Cold War environment where the rhetoric was still fairly heated?

The enemy wasn’t the Internet service “Napster”: The enemy was a business model that charged kids $20 dollars per compact disc (if you could even find the compact disc within your shopping area) when most kids only wanted one or two tracks off of it to begin with.

The enemy isn’t political dissent in countries such as China or North Korea: The enemy is a stagnant political process where too much political power and financial capital is situated with too few of that nation’s population (and yes, that could also imply America, too, before anyone responds).

And the enemy isn’t Uber. Uber is merely a response to both a public and private transportation system that needs reform and, as it seems, needs reform worldwide and not just locally.

No one likes change. No one especially likes change when it’s connected to their livelihood. No one wants to be replaced by a robot or have their job outsourced to a country where the labor is cheaper.

Yet we live in a world where there are no iceboxes. Or milkmen. We no longer live in a world of whaling ships (Yes, Japan still enjoys it’s “scientific whaling hunts” but that’s a post for another time) or, for that matter, of crippling Polio outbreaks. And we are for the better because of it. We no longer need iceboxes because we have refrigerators. We don’t need daily deliveries of milk. We receive our light from other sources of energy and vaccines really do work as advertised (and, no, I will not entertain responses from the anti-vax crowd) which has saved millions and millions of lives.

It’s time to stop hyperventilating over the headlines and start examining why the headlines exist in the first place. Uber isn’t the problem; The problem is why society found it necessary to need Uber in the first place.


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