A Thought on Uber and Social Behavior.


When I started writing this I was on a 9 hour Norwegian Airlines flight from Copenhagen, Denmark to Orlando, Florida. The final leg of my whirlwind of a trip to Europe―Orlando to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Paris, Paris back to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Copenhagen, Copenhagen to Orlando―the most traveling I’ve done in my life so far. A new experience to say the least. I’ll be doing much more of it in the near future. But more on that later.

This isn’t so much about my trip as it is a small observation throughout my travels.

As a millennial, I’m a instinctive Uber user. It’s a service that proved its worth on this trip, previous trips to New York and Chicago, as well as in my everyday life at home in Orlando, Florida.

I used Uber in each city I visited―Amsterdam, Paris, and Copenhagen. And each time I got different driver; different backgrounds, different ethnicities, different languages, different stories.

But, there was always one instance of consistency―each driver was one of two social levels: talkative or silent. There’s no in between.

The first Uber we took was in Amsterdam, from our Airbnb (again, a service I’ve lovingly adopted as a millennial) to the airport for our flight to Paris. Our driver was a very friendly Dutch native with a heavy accent, who was all too eager to talk about the inner workings of Uber in the Netherlands, and how it will change the economy as we know it. We chatted the whole way to the airport. A very lively ride to say the least.

Upon arrival in Paris, our driver was French and barely spoke a lick of English. We didn’t talk much. And our driver for our return trip to Amsterdam also did not speak English.

I’ll give those drivers a pass due to the language barrier. But I would venture to say that we probably wouldn’t have talked much, or at all. They didn’t seem like the social type.

When we arrived in Copenhagen, we were picked up from the airport by an Indian man who didn’t say one word besides “hello” and “where are you going?” (even though our destination was sitting on his smart phone screen mounted on his dashboard). On the way to our way to this flight, our driver was an older Danish man who spoke perfect English and made sure we knew it. We talked about the weather (Florida vs Denmark), bike lanes, public transportation, and 9/11.

This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed this either. I’ve had the same conversation with my girlfriend about Uber rides we’ve taken on trips to Chicago and New York. The drivers either talk (a lot) or they’re completely silent.

The point? A piece of technology is created to change our lives, to make them more connected and seamless than the day before. These changes may take a few years to fully affect the way we go about our daily lives, but will they ever change the way we act as human beings? Probably not. It’s easy to change the way people live, but it’s not easy to change the way people are.

If you think about it, services like Uber bring people together. Though masked by monetary commitment, they force us to fraternize and mingle with people we’ve never met; something some of us get anxiety at the very thought of. But even though this technology is changing the way we socialize with people and how often we do, it’ll take something really special to change human nature and make us want to socialize.


If you like what you read, please recommend and share it with others by using the ❤ button below. Clayton writes Letters from an Internet Traveler, the newsletter that delivers intriguing, thought-provoking Internet tidbits and obscurities to your inbox. Find out more about Clayton and his writing at claytonwrites.com.