Actually, that wordplay feels a little outdated as a majority of us consume our popular culture on different screens, but you get the idea!
On a Zoom happy hour yesterday (remember when that was a radical/novel idea a month ago?) we were discussing the shifting role of technology within the context of worldwide quarantine. While topics like the move to virtual workplaces and the necessary increase of using screen time for social interaction were covered, the question for all of us was the long-term effect posed by this disruption to in-person social interactions.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m coming from the basic and universal understanding that humans crave and need actual contact with others, and that virtual interactions and relationships don’t fulfill that need. Human contact is crucial to mental health. And there have been multiple studies of how the growing number of connections we have online does little to mitigate the loneliness that many feel.
We can assume that most people will return to in-person activities and interactions when it is appropriate and sanctioned. All that being said, here were the larger questions:
Will our current reality change the way in which we use technology to connect? For instance, while we will eventually be able to socialize regularly with the friends who live close to us, will we continue to use platforms like Zoom to connect with friends across the country on a regular basis?
Will it change the way in which we use technology to consume culture? For instance, while the continued uptick in streaming services has been ringing the death knell for movie theaters for years, will our newfound experience of total dependence on online options forever change our theater-going habits?
And closely related to this, will it change the way we use technology to interact with art and artists? Of particular interest are the countless virtual performances by musicians of all genres, and from concert pianists to DJs. While they are not necessarily the same as attending a live performance, does our current situation reframe the concept of what we consider a public performance, and how can performing arts organizations and individual artists use this new perspective as they move forward?
And finally, while adults may have a basis of comparison when viewing our socio-cultural situation as it stands, will our current situation have lasting impact on children, especially younger kids, whose limited experience makes online classrooms and virtual playdates a huge part of their known reality?
So I today I pose those very questions to you.
My task today: there are so many mundane tasks that cannot be done virtually, and cleaning the apartment is one of them. Fortunately, my husband and I have gotten organized enough to dedicate a good chunk of time every week (ie Sunday afternoon) to get it done, and have assigned each other the activities we find most onerous (I have an intense dislike of vacuuming and putting away laundry. He hates cleaning the shower and folding said laundry.) Just starting the process now but I know it will be (done!)